Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Importance of Saying Sorry

My name is Jenny, I'm an old friend of Katie's from the way-back.  Katie tapped me to write a little post about something.  "Something" is a very broad choice of topics considering that I can't even pick out a cereal at the market in fewer than ten minutes.  Just too many choices.  I told her that if she didn't give me a topic than I would write about a totally fascinating topic like lice or my toenails.  "Lice would make a fine topic" said Katie.  Turns out that this post isn't about lice though.  Ya, I had lice, my kids had lice, it sucked.  End of topic.  This post is a bit dearer to my heart than to my scalp.  This is about my growing ability and ease with saying sorry.

I'm a very blunt person.  I have a knack for saying the wrong thing at the right time.  I'm always putting my foot in my mouth.  A polite person might call me "direct", but sometimes it just comes off as rude.  I work on this every day, but change is hard.  I come from a family of funny, direct, blunt and very kind people who all communicate the way I do.  It turns out the rest of the world doesn't roll that way though.  I now live in the midwest, which might explain my heightened awareness of this character flaw (there I go again, insulting a good third of the country.)

My kids take swim lessons every Wednesday afternoon at our gym.  My daughter Lillian is a very good swimmer, mostly due to the fact that I've been dragging her to swim lessons once a week for three years.  Yesterday, suddenly after six months in her current swim class, these two boys show up in her class who couldn't even swim a lap.  In order to deal with these kids, Lillian was made to swim laps for half a hour instead of being given any instruction.  It was the fault of the swim instructors for putting the boys in the wrong class, not the boys' fault, but I was peeved.  I usually sit and chit-chat with my pall Jill during lessons, but yesterday I was swimming laps because I made some crazy deal with my friend Lisa to do a mini-triathalon (very mini, but that's a different post.) So after struggling to swim my laps for 20 minutes, I sit back down next to Jill who tells me that Lillian has been neglected and swimming laps the whole time.  After Lil's class is over, I speak to the instructors who tell me that the boys will be moved next week.

So into the locker room I go.  I see Jill and say in my loud voice "I talked to the instructors and those Boys Who Couldn't Swim will be moved to a new class next week," not noticing that The Boys Who Couldn't Swim and their mother were also in the locker room.  I'm just clueless and unaware sometimes. The mom the comes up and tells me how rude I was to say that in front of the Boys Who Couldn't Swim and that I've made them feel bad.  She was right.  I was wrong.  I said "I'm so sorry, really sorry, I shouldn't have said that." No defending myself, no giving reasons, just saying I'm sorry.  This stops people in their tracks.  Try it on your husband or your neighbor.  It really works a lot better than trying to come up with a million ways to defend your actions.  Just "I'm so sorry."

It even works if you aren't really sorry.

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered your blog, and I apologize that my first comment is about something someone else wrote! I've enjoyed the handful of your posts I've been able to read so far.
    I love that your friend wrote this bit about saying sorry. After I remember to say "sorry" a few times I'll need to send your link around to some know, those who should be saying sorry...well, okay, I probably won't but I'll fantasize about doing so.