Fall is here. The time for death to what is not working to make room for new possibilities.
Have you ever noticed how often an apology is a key turning point in a story? My favourite apologies are in Jerry McGuire (You Complete Me), You’ve Got Mail (when Tom Hanks Brings flowers to Meg Ryan and apologizes badly saying it was business, it wasn’t personal – 0h she sets him straight!) and Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me song.
The apology is the key moment of recognizing that something needs to die in order for something that matters to exist. A good apology comes from a position of power. I do not like it when someone apologizes by bleeding all over the place. Then I feel like I have to stop feeling my feelings and feel bad for them. When a person apologizes it should come from a recognition of a higher value. He choose’s the course he wants to be on and then does what it takes to make it happen.
It is a very powerful thing to know how to deliver a good apology. It is not rocket science. There are 4 steps. Do them with the right intention in your heart and you can bring something back from the dead.
Step 1. Admit What You Did Wrong
This is different from saying “if I hurt you I am sorry.” I have actually heard this. More than once. This step needs a clear statement of what happened and why it was wrong.
Step 2. Repair the Damage
This refers to the physical damage. If something was broken, buy a new one. If a mess was made, clean it up. If he said something at a party, he makes a statement that is equally public to correct what he said.
Step 3. Give Reasonable Expectation That It Won’t Happen Again
If the problem is rooted in commitment issues, he commits to talk it out or head to a councillor. If the issue is his boss is a letch or his job requires constant travel, start looking for a new one. Make whatever change is necessary to ensure there is not a cycle of recurring damage.
Step 4. Ask How You Can Make It Better
This is my favourite part of an apology because it looks at the emotional elements of the connection between two people. Most of the time just being asked is enough for me (I just realized I am assuming I am on the receiving end of the apology for this whole blog – hmmm. That is interesting. I do love a guy who apologizes well!)
Warning! It is really important when you are on the receiving end of an apology not to inflict more damage than was done when you get to step 4. For instance if you decide to even the score and have an affair – he had an affair because he was having a mid-life crisis or he was stupid. You had an affair to get back at him. Some might find that more damaging. You can say you need time to heal but there is a cost to making a person feel bad for too long.
Has anyone else noticed how common the apology is for story turning points? What has been your experience of writing an apology scene?