The Gentlemanly Apology

Posted on July 26, 2011 by forgetfulgentleman | 0 Comments

by Teah Strandjord

Dearest darling men, I truly wish you never had to apologize, but you’re men after all. Ok, I shouldn’t be so cynical, you’re human, and we all make mistakes, right? Thank goodness for mercy, compassion, understanding, and tolerance. To err is to be human, and to forgive is, well, to be wonderful. But before we can reach forgiveness, we need to master the art of the apology. And a true gentleman, in his noble and decorous way, is very good at this.

I’m thinking back to 2nd grade. Some girl is crying because some boy broke her special pencil. The teacher says to the boy, “Now say you’re sorry.” He sarcastically blurts his apologies with a snicker, so the teach adds, “Like you mean it.”

Like you mean it.

The like you mean it part is important even as grownups. Apologizing can make you feel better, but more importantly, if you mean it, it should make you contemplate the wrong that was done, intentionally, consciously, or not. And then, it should make the other person feel better, too.

What wrongs do we do? Oh, come on. You’re men… ah-hem, I mean human. You screw up at work. You break a promise to a friend. You forget an important date, like an anniversary. You tell a lie to your lover. Don’t say, “Who me? Not me?” Yes you. We all at some point have let those who are counting on us down. Whether we intended the harm or not, it’s important to understand the wrong that has been done in order to deliver the appropriate apology, and thus receive the atonement a delivery of I’m sorry seeks.

In some cases, such as a slip-up in an intimate relationship, a visit and a personally delivered apology is best.

Flowers can be a nice follow-up, but you shouldn’t rely on buying your way out of a wrongdoing. And if you send flowers after a more personal means of apology, make sure the size of the bouquet reflects the magnitude of the offense.

In other cases, such as a minor screw up at work, an email or phone call with a sincerely delivered “I’m sorry” will be greatly appreciated.

For life’s biggest blunders, I suggest a carefully hand written a note on a special piece of paper. And then, perhaps, a little of all of the above.

Most important to any apology, however, is the act of engaging your conscience. Contemplate the other person’s feelings. Truly strive to understand what was wrong and why. And then take responsibility. If you’re delivering your apology in person, by email, or by handwriting, prior thought and saying it like you mean it will do you a world of good. This shows your boss, or your girlfriend, or your angry neighbor, that you’re thinking, you’re aware, you’re committed, and you’re not going to make this mistake again.

Yes, a gentleman puts his best foot forward and tries not to make mistakes in the first place, but it happens to the best. To understand that trust is the cornerstone of all good relationships, and to travel whatever distance necessary to restore lost trust is the mark of refinement. Getting good people into your life was a feat in the first place, now engage your honor to keep them there.

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