Juliette: It really sucks when you think someone's got your back, and they don't.
Avery: Is that an apology?
Juliette: I got invited to join the Opry tonight. And you know what the first thing that came to my mind was? "I can't wait to tell Avery. " And then I realized it was my fault that we're not talkin'. So, yes. I'm sorry.
Avery: Thank you.
(Nashville, Season 2, Ep5)
I've written previously about my guilty pleasure of watching Nashville and while I'm a sucker for soaps the common opinion that they have pushed through storylines faster than Game of Thrones geographically connected the Seven Kingdoms is not lost on me. However, one thing I recognised that may have allowed them to do this (as Nashville is very much more about relationships rather than battle lines) is the way their characters apologise.
It struck me in Season 2 when prima donna Juliette Barnes apologised to Avery Barclay - the man who would later become her husband, and it's something I've noted as the seasons have progressed. When a character wishes to move forward, the apology is outwardly and unambiguously accepted. (...and Nashville characters have been moving forward at the rate of knots!)
I speak a lot about language and the effect that inner dialogue may have on our self worth and motivation, as well as how it can imact relationships. While we are unable to dictate exactly how a statement will be received, we can at least work to be clear in our communication.
Previous tips I have offered include:
Try to describe behaviours as "effective" or "ineffective" as relating to your goal
Not only does this mean that you have to always have a clear goal in mind (which stops you heading aimlessly through life - which is of course acceptable if it is chosen, but often it is now), but it also means you do not unconsciously "write off" behaviours. Something you did at one point may not have worked out in one context, but that doesn't mean it will not in future...it doesn't hurt to retain that option in your artillery of chosen behaviours.
Try to be direct when requesting something
eg. Instead of hinting at something "It's cold", instead make a positive statement eg "Do you mind if I shut the window please?" That way you become used to taking action at rectifying situations rather than expecting others to "mind read" - some people might, but that doesn't mean you need to set up the situation in that way.
"Would you like to..." or "Come and [do]..." rather than "Do you want..." when you really mean "I want you to". Putting the onus on the other person in a passive aggressive manner does not help you develop your delegation, management nor leadership skills, and neither is it being all that polite when you think about it... how would you respond if they said "No, I don't want to."?
Accepting an apology
To return to the point I was making about accepting an apology when it is offered does not mean to say you have to do so. However, if you are going to, then it's gracious, and does a lot for rebuilding bridges if you acknowledge it was said. Even if you follow it up with "Thank you for saying it I still need time to..." you have moved your situation forwards.
Accepting - or at least acknowledging, an apology also doesn't mean you have to forget what was said/done - and in fact remembering this may help you reflect and learn how to respond in future to avoid a similar occurrance. Further, if you are not ready to accept it, you can express gratitude for the offer, and still say you are not willing to address it yet. Acknowlegment goes far to both mending relationships and releasing any control you are allowing the other person to hold over you. An old Buddhist saying is "...holding a grudge is like holding a hot stone in your hand waiting to throw it." You are still being burned - and you picked the stone up.
- Next time someone apologises, thank them for saying so.
- If you still need time to think, say that too - and try and be clear as to what you will do eg. "I still need space to think, so I won't be going to the same events as you."
- When you are ready to pick up the relationship, know that the other person may also have moved forward - as making the offer will help them progress as well. (Yes, this does mean you are not "in control" of that relationship...but the reality is, the only person you have a right to "control" is you and your responses.)
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.