Have you noticed have often people apologise? The words ‘I’m sorry’ must be one of our most commonly uttered phrases. Incidental contact in a crowd, running a few minutes late to a meeting, making a joke that lands flat . . all elicit some form of sorriness.
And why? Is our audience really that sensitive? Are we all so thin skinned that without an immediate recognition of wrong doing our social fiber would be stretched to its limit? Or are we simply addicted to guilt? Maybe we seek penance for such slight wrong doings as a rehearsal for a bigger error. For me, I like to think of my life as a guilt-free zone. And this extends to friendships. I’ve recently found friends apologising for not being in more frequent contact. And the ironic thing is, they make contact to express their guilt over limited contact. Is this routine a bit like Catholic confession? If you say you’re sorry to someone do they then absolve your sin? I’ve never been much for the church, so instead of trying to make someone feel cleansed of their guilt, I like to introduce the notion of a non-guilt zone instead.
Try it next time someone lays an ‘I’m sorry’ at your feet. I’m guessing you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your response. And who knows, you might just leave a trail of joy behind.