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June 12, 2024

Episode 29: Why You Should Apologize More

In this episode, Sarah and Pam discuss why you should get better at apologizing and do it more often. You’ll learn why apologizing is especially important when the need to apologize to repair a wrong isn’t as apparent, how to apologize effectively, and how sincere apologies actually change memories.


  • Apologizing repairs relationships and strengthens connections.
  • Apologizing is a vulnerable form of communication that improves communication skills and fosters self-compassion.
  • Apologizing sets a positive example for others, especially children, and creates a culture of forgiveness and acceptance.
  • Being specific about what you are sorry for and listening to the other person’s perspective are important when apologizing. Apologizing effectively requires empathy, accountability, and vulnerability.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and take responsibility for your actions.
  • Avoid trying to convince the other person that you were right.
  • Focus on how you see the situation differently now and what you can change in the future.
  • Practice self-compassion to accept mistakes and learn from them.
  • Taking a walk during the apology can make the conversation flow better.
  • Apologizing is not about being a pushover or apologizing for existing.
  • Address underlying issues in a relationship instead of relying solely on apologies.
  • Celebrate the other person’s successes and amplify their joy to strengthen the relationship.
  • When accepting an apology, be gracious, empathetic, and open to forgiveness.

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This transcript was generated by AI so please ignore any weird errors. If there is anything really terrible, let us know.

Pam (00:00)
Saying you’re sorry is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also one of the most important. When done well, it has the power to not only undo the pain you caused, but actually make your relationship stronger. We’ve probably all been in a situation where we hurt someone and like had to apologize to gain their forgiveness. But more often we have more minor transgressions or little arguments, or we just kind of…

behave in ways that we’re not proud of, but that aren’t bad enough to make the other person angry or at least not angry for long. So you just kind of like wait it out. And once they’re not treating you differently anymore, you’re like, woo, that’s over, moving on without ever addressing it. But those little infractions can create a thousand small cuts that accumulate over time. And even if they don’t create lasting harm,

sarah (00:44)
Mm -hmm, mm -hmm.

Pam (00:57)
acknowledging what you did and how you wish you had behaved instead makes the other person feel seen and understood and it creates a deeper connection. So today we’re going to talk about why we should all be apologizing more frequently and how to do it even if it feels weird. So I’m going to start with sort of an embarrassing story about me to illustrate this.

A couple of months ago, CK asked me if I wanted to go to the birthday party for a gal that he has been riding horses with. And I don’t know this woman, never met her. I just know that they spend a lot of time together riding horses. And so I’m like, okay, like, well, you know, I’m antisocial, so I don’t really want to go to the party, but I’ll go. And we were on the way there and he says, Hey, can you go to the store so I can buy a gift for her?

And I was like, what? Like, you don’t buy me birthday gifts, you don’t buy your parents birthday gifts, like, why are you buying a gift for this woman? And now I am not typically a very jealous person, but I just, like, something felt weird about this and it kind of triggered me. And so I was like, you know, why are you buying this woman a gift? And he was like, what are you talking about? Like, it’s, we’re going to her home. I want to have, you know,

make a gesture and just buy something small to bring to this party. And, you know, we kind of like went back and forth about it and then we bought the gift and we went to the party and it was fine. She’s a lovely woman. She is married. I had no reason to have had that reaction in hindsight, but when it happened, like my monkey brain didn’t have enough information to not feel threatened. So the next day,

sarah (02:43)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (02:55)
everything’s fine. I could have just let that go and just have been like, well, that happened. You know, I behaved like a weirdo. But instead I went to CK and I said, Hey, I’m really sorry that I made you feel bad about trying to do a nice thing yesterday. And he was like, you know, yeah, I just, I had no idea where it was coming from. And we had a really good conversation about why.

sarah (03:12)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (03:21)
it happened and like the misunderstanding and me not having enough information and everything. And it ended up being a really good experience that we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been like, hey, I was being weird yesterday.

So I think that those kind of situations happen pretty frequently, especially if you’re in a relationship, you’ve been together for a long time, it would have been really easy to just ignore it and pretend that it hadn’t happened or that there was no reason to talk about it. But the connection that came out of the conversation was really valuable.

sarah (03:56)
I love that story. And I like the, you know, the example you picked and as you sort of preface the whole conversation is that sometimes it’s this idea of a thousand cuts or death by a thousand cuts. It doesn’t have to be the biggest mistake in the world. And yet these small pain points can really add up. And so practicing being vulnerable enough to.

open up the conversation and see if an apology might help. I think is really valuable. And in preparation for this, I was doing some research on the topic and I came across this quote by Desmond Tutu, and it’s without forgiveness, there is no future.

without forgiveness, there is no future. And to me, it was such a salient reminder that forgiveness allows us to then move out of the past and into the present and then the future. Because even in that small example, you know, with CK and the gift, you know, if you had let yourself stew in it, stew in it.

Oh my gosh, this happened and why did he and he made us stop and we got the gift and why and it was annoying and he didn’t even know. Then you’re staying in that place instead of getting to the moment that you’re in and you had this great conversation and then you’re able to move on and have a great day, right? Instead of rehashing the past. So I think that that process of forgiveness is essential for allowing us to move into the future.

Pam (05:37)
It is, and I think…

sarah (05:37)
in our yeah, like in our own brains and in our relationships.

Pam (05:41)
Yeah, absolutely. And I think forgiveness sounds like such a big thing. Like, you know, it sounds like there’s some major transgression and you’re like looking for forgiveness or trying to forgive yourself. And it’s more like we were just saying about like those little things. And it’s like the forgiveness is more of acknowledgement and being like, hey, you know, I’m human and I did this thing or I said this thing and…

sarah (05:46)


Pam (06:10)
it didn’t feel right and I’m sorry and I just want to acknowledge that. And like, I acknowledge that what I did or what I said affected you. And if we don’t have this conversation, then the like splinter effect of that, who knows where that goes? Like, you know, with my example, maybe, you know, in the future, then CK doesn’t want to, you know, buy gifts for people when he has the, like, if he’s like, I want to buy a gift.

sarah (06:38)
The urge to, yeah.

Pam (06:39)
Yeah, he’s got the urge to, but he’s like, Pam’s gonna get mad about that, which is silly. But I set that tone by having that reaction. And then if I hadn’t addressed it, who knows where that could go? Yeah. So why is this topic important? The biggest thing is just that we’re human and conflict happens, right? In any relationship of any kind, there’s…

sarah (06:54)

Pam (07:08)
some sort of conflict at some point. Everyone has an off day, miscommunications happen, like accidental slights, even if you don’t realize that you’ve done something, maybe you just looked at somebody away and they took it to mean something like, there’s conflict all the time. So apologizing not only repairs the damage done by the conflict,

but like we were just saying it actually makes the relationship stronger than before the conflict. So inside a book called Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy, she says, “when we return to a moment that felt bad and add connection and emotional safety, we actually change the memory in the body.” And she’s referring to a parent -child relationship in that

book, but the same holds true with any relationship. And what I love about it is that she says we actually change the memory in the body. And that’s, you know, that feeling when there’s a conflict and you’re like reliving it, you can feel it in your body. But if you go back and have the repair, then the memory becomes of the repair and of the connection afterwards, and you kind of replace that.

sarah (08:16)

Pam (08:30)
closed off icky feeling from the conflict with the positive warm bonding connection from the apology.

sarah (08:37)
Yeah, or even if it’s not fully replaced, they can be side by side.

Pam (08:42)
Yeah, both things can be true.

sarah (08:44)
Yeah, can you read the quote again?

Pam (08:45)
Sure, it says, “when we return to a moment that felt bad and add connection and emotional safety, we actually change the memory in the body.”

sarah (08:56)
Beautiful. I think, I think, you know, building on what you’re saying is that conflict does happen and research shows us that one of the best ways to facilitate repair is a sincere apology. There aren’t that many ways to repair like a conflict, a hurt, a wound in a relationship. There aren’t actually that many effective ways to repair it. A sincere apology is one of the ways. There are some other ways, like for example,

Pam (08:58)

sarah (09:26)
Time can pass and with the passing of time the individual can gain new perspectives. They can gain more self -awareness They might choose to let it go through their own work, etc but but apology, a sincere apology done the right way is one of the ways to facilitate it. So even though it can feel vulnerable or or bizarre it really is in our best interest to get comfortable with it

Pam (09:54)
I love that you just said in our best interest because I can imagine a lot of people thinking, well, why should I apologize to like benefit the other person? Like, you know, maybe getting kind of in, you know, in a not great place in your brain, but there is that impetus of like, apologizing is for the other person. And like, why should I do that? But it really is for your own benefit, too.

sarah (10:16)

Absolutely it is.

Pam (10:23)
Yeah, it’s not just for the other person’s benefit. You benefit when you sincerely apologize for something that deserves an apology.

sarah (10:32)
Yes, and one of the ways you benefit, this is something I wanted to bring into the conversation. As a communications instructor, I found this particularly interesting. One way that you benefit by improving your ability to apologize and your apologizing skills is that you are significantly improving your communication toolkit. And the reason why is that apologizing is one of the most vulnerable ways of communicating.

Pam (11:02)

sarah (11:02)
because we’re opening up, this means admitting mistake. It means showing our emotions potentially. It means the potential of being rejected. It can mean the loss of control, because you’re opening up, you don’t know what the other person’s gonna say, you don’t know what the repercussions are going to be. So it’s like an ultimate loss of control, right? So.

Pam (11:29)
It’s like everything bad all in one sandwich.

sarah (11:32)
Yeah, so no wonder, no wonder humans and humans hate we hate admitting that we make a mistake. We hate it. So all of those things in one and you have to find a way to communicate it open your mouth and audibly let those words out. So what a great way to stretch your communication skills repertoire. It just in terms of a hidden benefit for you.

Pam (11:56)
Yeah. that’s so interesting. I like that. Yeah. Practicing apology to improve communication and it like builds resilience. Yeah. I like that. Yeah.

sarah (12:06)
100 % and self -compassion because you because you can own what the mistake you made and you know, hopefully forgive yourself and recover from it as well

Pam (12:20)
So you said giving a good apology, you know, apologizing sincerely. And one of the things about a good apology is that it makes the other person feel seen without minimizing how you feel. So to like carry on that topic of that it’s good for them, but it’s also good for you. In Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy that I was just quoting, she talks about the concept of multiplicity.

sarah (12:24)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.


Mm -hmm.

Pam (12:51)
which is the ability to accept multiple realities at once. And that’s what we need to do to apologize. So like taking my story from earlier, one reality was that I felt like something was off. I felt like threatened and I needed to express that feeling to feel secure. And the other reality was that there was no actual reason for me to feel that way.

sarah (13:11)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (13:18)
both things were true at the same time. And I had to accept that to allow me to say, hey, I’m sorry that went down. I’m sorry that that happened, but I’m not sorry I expressed how I was feeling. I’m sorry that how I felt made you feel bad. So that concept of multiplicity of like recognizing the other persons.

sarah (13:23)


Pam (13:44)
position and that their reality is true as much as your reality is true, it allows the other person to feel seen and to have their experience respected without you losing your experience. And that goes back to the building of connection and making the relationship feel more secure because no one’s claiming that their experience is right and the other person’s is wrong.

sarah (13:48)


Yeah, the listening and validating is so important. And I’ve learned that for world for that sort of world class communication or connection to happen, you almost want the other person to feel like you can put yourself in their shoes entirely. Like you could also speak from their perspective because you so fully can accept.

Pam (14:37)

sarah (14:45)
what their lived experience is. Yes, it’s like, wow, I fully, fully hear what you’re saying. And you have to actually let yourself go there, which also can be hard because as people, we wanna like hold on to our version of the story and we might feel impatient and we might not wanna hear the whole thing and we might get defensive. And so that’s a process to really like let our guard down and be patient with.

Pam (14:47)
Right? Even when it’s different than yours. Yeah.

sarah (15:13)
what they have to say and what their perspective is.

Pam (15:15)
Yeah. And on the subject of it being like building your communication skills and making you a more resilient person, that skill is something that you can use on yourself as well. That ability to hold to viewpoints can benefit yourself. Like if you, you know, you can hold the two realities of like, I love my kids and want to spend time with them and I want to work full time.

sarah (15:32)
That’s it.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (15:45)
Like being able to have those two realities, you can give yourself grace and respect both realities. So that’s a really great skill to build.

sarah (15:56)

Pam (15:57)
So another reason that apologizing is so important is that it shows that you’re open to growth. So if you have conflict in a relationship without repair, even if the conflict was small, resentment can build up over time and…

patterns don’t change. Often these things that you may need to apologize for end up being kind of the same thing over and over again. And if you don’t go through that process of recognizing it and repairing, then you just repeat that same pattern over and over again. And, you know, it’s not easy. It’s easy to like not apologize in the moment when something happens. And then,

if you like wait and everything seems fine, it’s really easy to be like, okay, well, I don’t need to apologize for that. But an apology is easier kind of after that emotional charge is gone. And going back and apologizing and acknowledging how you wish you’d behaved differently, it shows that you are open to receiving that information and making that change and.

it helps the other person see that they can let go of the story, that you’re always gonna make this mistake and that this is your pattern and that you’re never gonna change.

And then it also is a little bit selfish because if you give more apologies, you get more back.

sarah (17:38)
Hmm. It’s true. It’s so true. And you reminded me when you were speaking of being a mom and holding two truths or being a parent, I should say, and holding two truths. I was thinking about another benefit of apologizing is that it sets a positive example for my kids.

Pam (18:01)
Mm, yep.

sarah (18:02)
So I am fine with apologizing to them when I think that I’ve screwed up or I haven’t spoken to them in the right way. I’ve lost my temper or sometimes I’ve promised, okay, we’re going to do this activity and I’m going to be there to do it. And then things shift and I’m not there, right? I can’t do it. Something comes up and there’s hurt there. And I’m like, wow, I’m sorry. I really let you down. And I wish I hadn’t done that.

Pam (18:31)

sarah (18:32)
You know, and I don’t want to do that again. And so that shows them that I don’t think I’m perfect. I don’t think I’m without flaw. I don’t think I’m without repair. And also that it’s okay to make a mistake, own it and move on because I don’t want them to be saddled. The other thing about apologizing, it’s kind of just admitting we all make mistakes. Sometimes we all hurt people. Sometimes it’s not a huge problem.

Or it doesn’t have to be a huge problem, right? Address it, talk about it, apologize. If we’re keeping it all bottled up, it’s almost like it becomes an elephant in the room or this, that’s when it can turn into a source of shame. I don’t want my kids to feel that they can never, you know, make a mistake. Like you can, but just own up to it and then let’s talk about it.

Pam (19:18)
Yeah, because everyone makes mistakes and mistakes deserve forgiveness. Like I try and think about, you know, we were talking about the weirdness of apologizing, the vulnerability that it requires. And I try and think about valuing my relationships more than being right or being righteous or not feeling weird. Like place the value on the relationship and on…

sarah (19:23)

Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.


Pam (19:48)
you know, communicating with the other person more than you value not feeling like a weirdo for a few minutes.

sarah (19:55)
100 % 100 % you’ll be fine like just you’ll feel uncomfortable and then it’ll be done

Pam (19:57)

Yep. Okay, so we’ve alluded to the fact that apologizing feels weird, that it requires a lot of vulnerability. So let’s talk about how to actually do it so that when people are in this situation, they’ve got some tools to do it properly and to maybe take away some of the weirdness.

sarah (20:17)
Mm -hmm.


Pam (20:26)
So first and foremost, just start by saying you’re sorry and what you’re sorry for. Like literally state, you know, I wanna apologize for and be specific.

you know, make sure that the other person understands what you saw as the transgression or the thing that you need to apologize for because showing them that will make them feel understood. And it also gives them the opportunity to say, well, actually I don’t need an apology for that, but you know, it was actually this that bothered me or, you know, it kind of opens up the conversation. If you just say, Hey, I’m sorry about yesterday.

sarah (21:00)

Pam (21:09)
then that just like shuts the conversation down. But if you’re saying, you know, I’m sorry about how I reacted when you were late for dinner yesterday, that is very specific about, you know, what you were, what you’re apologizing for.

sarah (21:27)
Mm -hmm. Yeah, and I also think if if it’s sort of uncertain like let’s say there’s a situation and it just had a weird energy and you know, something was off a Good way to open it was hey, I want to talk about last night Because I noticed that things felt strange after dinner. So I want to hear your perspective on What went down?

Pam (21:39)



sarah (21:55)
So then they can talk and you can see what it is and do you need to apologize? As you said, do you actually need to and what for? So versus like us naming it before we know what it is.

Pam (22:08)
a good point. I like that saying like, I noticed rather than like, you were acting weird last night. Yeah.

sarah (22:13)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I noticed things felt strange for me anyways, how did they feel for you? You know, let’s talk about last night and then you give them full permission to speak express and then you can pull out well, I’m hearing this I’m hearing that and then you can see is there anything that needs to be apologized for?

Pam (22:19)
Yeah. Yeah.

I like that. You also want to acknowledge how you think they felt. So you may be wrong when you do this, but you can say, like using that, you know, dinner reaction example, you could say like, you know, I’m sorry about how I reacted yesterday when you were late for dinner. I know you didn’t want to get stuck at work.

sarah (22:40)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (23:00)
you were already stressed out and I made you feel worse by being upset. So you’re acknowledging the other person was also, you know, not in a great place. They were stressed out. They weren’t feeling good. And you’re you’re making them feel seen for what their reality was in the experience.

sarah (23:07)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Great. And then also I’m noticing is great facilitation language. And another one you could, another language to use in a situation like this is I’m imagining. So I’m imagining you felt annoyed, you know, after you were struck, you know, stressed to get home. And then I piled on more guilt or then I said X, Y and Z. Or I’m imagining you felt, you know, put out annoyed, whatever it is worse.

Pam (23:32)

sarah (23:50)
So I think that’s just like a good way to preface it.

Pam (23:55)
Yeah, I like that. That’s why you are the communications professional.

sarah (23:59)
These are my facilitation language secrets.

Pam (24:05)
I like it. So then also you do not want to try to convince them that you were right.

sarah (24:13)
Correct, yes, you don’t want to do that.

Pam (24:15)
Yeah, that is not an apology. That is continuing the fight. Yeah, exactly. And then you want to add how you see the situation differently now that time has passed, if at all. And if there’s anything that you want to change to prevent the situation from happening again. So to like continue that dinner example.

sarah (24:17)
No. That’s an argument. Yeah, that’s doubling down.

Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Pam (24:40)
You could say, like, you know know, I will try to be more understanding if you have to work late in the future so that we can enjoy the rest of the evening, even if we don’t get to eat together. And that may open up the other person to saying, like, okay, you know, and I will, you know, do better about letting you know that I’m going to be late for dinner so that your expectations are reasonable or something like that.

sarah (25:03)

Pam (25:07)
And if you give an apology like this with those kind of steps of saying you’re sorry, what you’re sorry for, acknowledging how you think they felt, don’t convince them that you were right, and then adding how you see the situation differently or how you want to change things in the future, it doesn’t demand anything of the other person, which is important because an apology shouldn’t demand like, I’m sorry for this, but you.

did this, like that’s right exactly. Because when you demand something of them, that’s going to put them on the defensive and they’re not going to volunteer anything. But if you just come with vulnerability and openness, the likelihood that they will say, you know, thank you, and I could have handled it differently as well is much greater. And the conversation will go much better if you’re not.

sarah (25:36)
Yeah, and what are you sorry for?

Pam (26:05)
demanding that they participate in your apology.

sarah (26:08)
Yes. So I’m hearing that empathy for the other person, holding empathy for the other person and their experience, holding yourself accountable. So taking responsibility and also holding yourself accountable to some type of change in the future and really creating space. And that means letting go of control, not knowing how it’s going to go, but really opening it up to see where the conversation goes.

Pam (26:38)
Yeah. And know that it’s just gonna feel weird, like, especially if you have not practiced apologizing a lot, you know, like we were saying, you don’t like to admit that you’re wrong or, you know, that idea of that you could be apologizing and then get rejected, that’s really scary. Especially if you, you know, if your family didn’t handle conflict well.

sarah (26:42)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (27:07)
you could have a lot of like built up like trauma even maybe around around conflict and it can feel scary or threatening. Like maybe if you were a kid and you like did take responsibility for something and then you get in trouble for it, you know, you might have that kind of feeling that like, I’m gonna go and apologize for this and then I’m gonna get in trouble. Like,

sarah (27:12)
Yeah, sure. Sure.

Pam (27:36)
No one wants that. But.

sarah (27:38)
Yeah, I mean, I think like what you’re saying makes sense. Like, let’s face it, the world generally doesn’t welcome us making mistakes. We’re supposed to like do it right and, you know, quote unquote, succeed all the time. Even though we hear messages like mistakes are normal, society generally doesn’t reward them. The workplace doesn’t reward them. Schools don’t always reward them. Parents don’t always reward them. So this is like a reframe of.

Pam (27:46)


sarah (28:07)
Mistakes are normal. I’m a normal human. This is where the self -compassion comes in. And actually I’d love to do a full episode on self -compassion, but the mindful self -compassion practice is the first step is noticing, noticing the emotion, right? This is, this is pain or this is pain that I caused this. And then it’s saying to yourself, this is a normal part of a human experience.

all humans feel this way. So the vulnerability that we feel in apologizing is like, whatever you want to name it, this feels exposing, this feels vulnerable, this feels scary, this feels embarrassing. And then saying, and that’s normal because every single human being feels this way in different times. So even though mistakes aren’t celebrated, this is life.

Pam (29:03)

sarah (29:04)
This is life and I’m experiencing it right now. So I think the self -compassion piece could be a really instrumental tie in to apologizing. Because if you’re not giving yourself such a hard time and it’s not about letting yourself off the hook for not living up to your values and you do want to be the person you want to be and live in integrity. And at the same time as humans, we fall short. We just do. And so apologizing to the other person.

Pam (29:14)

sarah (29:35)
and then also accepting that, you know, allowing yourself some self -compassion will really help.

Pam (29:41)
Yeah, I agree. I’m thinking about, you know, you hear a lot about like teenagers or people in their twenties now who kind of grew up with mostly digital communication and they haven’t maybe had as much experience with this type of communication and you know, face to face like, hey, I screwed up. And you know, on the internet, you just get canceled. And it’s…

sarah (30:07)
Yeah. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Pam (30:10)
Yeah, it’s really sad to think about that we may have a whole generation of people that are so afraid of making a mistake because of the repercussions and not being willing to have this. Yeah.

sarah (30:22)
It’s so true. It’s so true. So there could be like an official being canceled or it can just be like your mistake is on the internet forever. Yeah.

Pam (30:34)

Big self -compassion piece there then for sure. So one way to make it easier to apologize is to take a walk when you do it, like take the person for a walk with you. I use this for any sort of communication. This is actually something that CK and I started doing years ago. We would start our morning with a walk and this was when he was kind of at the height of his anxiety.

sarah (30:51)
I love this suggestion of yours.

Pam (31:07)
And so I would ask him to rate his anxiety in the mornings. So I knew like what this day was gonna be like because I had no idea what was going on in his head if I didn’t ask him. And so on our walks throughout the day, I would be able to bring up different topics and it’s just as powerful with an apology because if you’re sitting looking at the other person, you’re not moving anywhere, it’s so much more awkward to have.

sarah (31:34)
Yeah, yeah.

Pam (31:35)
any sort of a conversation. But if you’re out walking, like you don’t have to look at each other, you know, stare each in each other’s faces or like wonder where to look. You’ve got nature, you’ve got movement, it just everything feels easier when you’re walking, it just flows better.

sarah (31:42)

Yeah. Yes. Amazing, amazing tip. Take a walk.

Pam (31:54)

And just know that with a little bit of practice, it feels weird. It feels less weird. But the best thing about apologies when they go well is the payoff is immediate. You feel better immediately after you talk through whatever has been going on. Yeah. So.

sarah (32:17)

So good. So good. And you get a walk. Double

Pam (32:26)
And you’re gonna walk. Yep. I wanted to make sure that we talk quickly about what we’re not talking about here. Like what an apology, what sort of apologies we’re not talking about. So I’m not advocating for people to just be pushovers and to be saying sorry constantly for every little thing. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

sarah (32:40)

Pam (32:52)
We are not talking about apologizing for speaking your mind in appropriate situations, for merely existing and taking up space. Like all of these things that we hear about that especially women tend to, you know, apologize a lot for, that’s not what I’m saying you should do more of. We want more apologies for actual transgressions, actual conflict.

sarah (32:57)
Thank you.

Pam (33:22)
not speaking your mind in a meeting.

sarah (33:26)
100%. This isn’t about becoming a people pleaser or more of a people pleaser or an apologizing for whenever you know what you say goes against the grain. I was also laughing because as a Canadian, there’s so many jokes about Canadians. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. You know, though I actually don’t even think that’s such a big deal, even though we get teased for it. Like now it’s just a shorthand.

Pam (33:32)


sarah (33:55)
right, for bumping into somebody in the grocery store. But yes, that’s not what we’re talking about.

Pam (33:58)

No. And apologizing is also not a replacement for doing the work that your relationship needs to reduce conflict before it happens. So if you find that you’re in a relationship where you’re just apologizing all the time and nothing’s changing, you need to investigate that dynamic, whether it’s something that you’re actually doing or whether the relationship needs better communication.

sarah (34:13)
Yes, yes, yes, yes.


Yes, and I have a major tip for this one. Yes, so studies have shown that one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship is actually to celebrate the other person’s success and to experience more joy with that person versus just be there for the person when they’re in pain, whether you caused it or not.

Pam (34:30)
Ooh good.

sarah (34:52)
So there was a study from UCLA, there was an instructor called Dr. Shelley Gable, and she released a study called Will You Be There For Me When Things Go Right?

which is of course a play on, but will they be there for me when things go wrong? Because she noticed that when things go wrong, oftentimes people will be there for the individual. However, when somebody has good news, when they do well, that’s not always met with the kind of response that actually strengthens the relationship.

So all of this to say, if you’re finding that there’s a lot of apology going on in a relationship, or even if there’s not, and you want to make your relationship better, and you want to make it so that lots of apologies won’t be needed in the future, a super easy thing you can do is start pointing out what your partner is doing well, whether it’s related to you or not, right? So, wow, I love, I just noticed that I loved that you, how you handled that, or I love,

the way you had this conversation with your mom. They were like, really? You did that so well, right? Or I love how you created this experience for the family. Or I noticed you did such a good job in work. Or why don’t we celebrate the fact that you halfway finished the program, you’re at the halfway part. Let’s have a celebration dinner just for you. Yeah, so that’s how that’s like, and it’s like amplifying joy. That’s the only way. So if somebody has a piece of good news,

Pam (36:20)
I love that.

sarah (36:27)
The way that you create more trust in that relationship is you amplify their joy. That means you ask them questions about it, you let them take center stage, you make it bigger with your words and your questions and you don’t make it about you, you don’t say, let’s talk about it later, you don’t get on your phone while they’re telling you, you’re just fully, fully listening to them and giving them space and that’s how you create trust.

Pam (36:54)
and you will experience joy through their joy. Like it will make you happier to participate in their happiness. Yeah. And I’m gonna point people back to a recent episode that we did on negativity bias, because we talk in there about focusing on the positive, celebrating wins and the power that that can have. So I definitely think that that is a great way to strengthen a relationship for sure. Yeah, I love that.

sarah (36:59)
Yes. Yes.

Great point.

Mm -hmm.

Great. Great.

Pam (37:24)
So last thing is on the flip side, if someone is apologizing to you, how to like be on the receiving end, how to accept an apology. Because being, you know, being graceful and generous towards someone who’s apologizing to you is important. You have to think about how hard it was for them to apologize and put yourself in their position, again, empathy.

sarah (37:41)
Thank you.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (37:54)
You know, obviously say thank you and acknowledge that you know it was hard for them to apologize. And if they were right about their reflection of how they think that you felt, say so. If not, you can gently correct them. You can open up that conversation. It’s not a one -way street. And then you should also express understanding to them about how you think they…

felt so that you show that you understand them as well to build that reciprocity. And then tell them how their plans for future actions, if they provided any like change that they’re going to make, how that makes you feel and add your own if it’s appropriate.

sarah (38:26)
Mm -hmm.


Right. Those are all great steps. The only thing I add to it is to take like a 2000 foot in the air view, like a meta view of your life and of your relationship with this person and ask yourself what’s at stake. You know, if this is, I mean, I’ve seen, I’m sure you have, and all the listeners have seen certain really close relationships go up and smoke.

Pam (38:53)


sarah (39:08)
you know, relationship you can have with a family member, with a parent, with a with a best friend forever. And I’m not saying all those relationships should necessarily last forever. Different people have different reasons. The point is, like, look around and realize that happens and that your relationship in question isn’t immune to that happening. Right. So ask yourself, do I want this relationship? Is it a value to me if it is?

and they’re offering a sincere apology, take it.

Pam (39:43)
I’m going to take that one step further and say you could even forgive people before they apologize. Don’t hold resentments or be punitive. You know, it’s not healthy for your relationship, especially if it’s something that you don’t actually need an apology for. You could still like hold onto it and be bitter about it, even if it’s like some little thing. So be generous and give that apology.

sarah (39:46)
Mm -hmm.



Pam (40:12)
or give that forgiveness without requiring the apology if the other person isn’t up for it.

sarah (40:18)
I love that, more to come on that topic.

Pam (40:20)


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