Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Apologies are always welcome...I think

When I was first hired by a company, a coworker was assigned to train me. He was Jewish, although non-affiliated, and for about nine months we had a very good working relationship. I had him over for a Rosh HaShana dinner, and I thought we had a pretty good friendship as well.

At one point, though, I was promoted, a job that this trainer had his eye on. From that point on, he was no longer friendly, or even talking to me. I attributed it to jealousy or bitterness over the promotion, and was surprised that over the next few years, he never got over it.

Yesterday I got an apology email from him. I had not given him more than a passing thought in a while, but his name was on a list of people that I emailed, and he responded apologizing and explaining what he was so upset about.

I sent him back an email accepting his apology, and I hope to see him in a few weeks. The truth was it felt very good to have someone apologize to me for something that had taken place years before.

But is there ever a time when it is too late to apologize; When the damage you have done is so severe, or so far back in the past, that an apology is worthless?

14 Comments:

Blogger Shifra said...

Actually, I have.
I apologised a couple years ago to an old boyfriend who I'd hurt when I was 18 and never really settled things with- although I was just a kid, I've always felt bad about it.

When I did track him down (via email) and apologised sincerely, he said he'd been waiting for me to apologise all this time and was glad I did. In the end though I think it did him more harm than good to speak to me again. It was as if by finally apologising it returned him back to a point 11 years early, only now here he was a sucessful father of three falling apart at the seams.
He started calling me quite often after that, alternately telling me that he still had feelings for me and that he hated me it was very difficult. In the end he decided not to speak to me again and I was grateful.

I'm glad I had a chance to finally apologise, but I was sorry I did it too. If I had to do it again I wouldn't, how ever hard that would be to live with...

August 16, 2005 2:36 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Shifra - If you hadn't apologized, wouldn't he still be a father of three falling apart at the seams?

August 16, 2005 2:57 PM  
Blogger Shifra said...

I really don't know.
Clearly he wasn't rock solid or my out of the blue apology wouldn't have shaken him up so badly and for so long. Still he seemed to really have his life on track- nice wife, great job, etc... and blamed me entirely for derailing him at this late date (and of course earlier on as well.)

At least it made it very clear that I made the right decision when I broke up with him way back when...

August 16, 2005 3:22 PM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Air, I don't think it's ever too late. There may be circumstances which make it not a wise move, but still never too late.

I'm still waiting for some apologies from people from long ago, and I'm sure some are waiting for me.

August 16, 2005 3:30 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

JPT - I think Shifra might be right. Sometimes, the window closes and you missed it, and there is no sense drudging it back up again just so you can feel better about it.

August 16, 2005 3:49 PM  
Blogger SportPsych Detroit said...

Wow, Air...you're hitting on a really psychologically heavy topic.

Askshifra discovered first-hand how the apology, while helping to remove some guilt, ended up causing this person grief (let's leave aside his emotional stability for a moment).

One really has to evaluate what one plans to accomplish with an apology, and how likely one can accomplish it with that apology.

When on the receiving end of the hurt, it is rarely healthy to wait for an apology. They almost never come--and when they do, they often don't come in the form we fantasized about.

I myself have, over time, hurt people I care about. In some cases, I have yet to aplogize for it. Why? I am not sure. Apologizing will help me, as I have been carrying it around for years (and it weighs alot). At the same time, it is a real uncomfortable topic for those I have hurt, and I don't know if at this point it will take away the pain they had way back when, or just re-open old wounds.

It's hard to admit we screwed up. It's even more difficult to make it right.

The best course of action is one that comes from an honest appraisal of our motives.

August 16, 2005 4:09 PM  
Blogger Shifra said...

In my case I think my ex-bf really wanted the apology. He told me he'd been waiting for it all this time, and he also told me all the things he'd been waiting to tell me. I also felt like I'd owed him that apology or admission of guilt and I wanted to make good on it.

Even so it all worked out miserably, even in retrospect I'm not sure what I should have done. I'm just glad it's over.

August 16, 2005 4:32 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

By my personal scoreboard, I owe two people apologies. (Not counting my wife, who I'm sure I owe an apology for something.)

I doubt if either one will ever happen. I don't really see the benefit to apology recipient, but if the opportunity were to present itself, I think I would apologize.

I ended a long running fight a few years ago with an apology and accepting the other person's apology (he apologized first, i didn't accept, in the end I came around), but that was an ongoing fight that needed an apology to work itself out. Otherwise we would still be actively fighting.

August 16, 2005 4:40 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

AMSHINOVER NEVER apologies
no 1/4 asked or given

August 16, 2005 4:59 PM  
Blogger Chrissy Levy said...

If a person does not apologize for something they knew they did wrong just becaus they do not know what will happen if they do, then I believe they are doing themselves and the other party a huge disservice. I would want to cleasr myself of the guilt and I am sure the other peron would appreciate that you acknowledge the fact that you have done them wrong, even if it does stir up emotions.
It's only too late after they die, we are here to be good to eachother, and apologizing is a good way to fix the road we all walk along to make it easier for everyone.

August 16, 2005 5:03 PM  
Blogger SportPsych Detroit said...

Of course everyone should treat this issue on a case by case basis, and there are exceptions to every rule. The best we can do is try to treat people right in the first place, see the positive in people, and be an honest and transparent in our behavior as possible.

We can't always help it if people get offended by what we do (or who we are). And I agree with you that apologizing is good karma.

I just think there are situations where we are trying to get something off of our chest, and we don't always honestly evaluate whether we are doing a disservice to the other party (even though on the surface one might ask, "how is a genuine apology a disservice?")

August 16, 2005 5:10 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Chrissy -

What if you are not apologizing, not because you don't want to face the sins of the past, but because you don't want to revisit your past indiscretions on your victim once again?

Wouldn't apologizing so that one relieves the burden of guilt be a selfish act while possibly reopening old wounds ?

August 16, 2005 6:21 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Askshifra discovered first-hand how the apology, while helping to remove some guilt, ended up causing this person grief (let's leave aside his emotional stability for a moment)."

You can't leave the emotional stability aside. Normal people move on. Shifra did nothing wrong, although in general, I would say that between boyfriends and girlfriends, after both have respective spouses and lives, sleeping dogs should left to lie.

August 16, 2005 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!
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August 12, 2006 11:21 PM  

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