Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Communication is an essential part of our life but unfortunately many people do it rather badly. Misunderstanding and the unwillingness to admit our mistakes become the root of most conflicts. Sometimes people say what they don’t really mean. In a fit of temper they may call somebody a fool or say something very offensive. Later they have compunction about behaving in such a way and want to rectify their mistake but they don’t know how to do it. Things seem to be extremely complicated. Good relations seem to be spoilt forever. But in reality there is a way to improve the situation and to re-establish good relations. What you should do is just to apologize.

As Elton John sings, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’. Why is it so difficult for us to admit our fault and to say, ‘Sorry. I am wrong’? The truth is that it is always easier to see the wrong in someone else than in ourselves. An apology is when one feels regret at having offended somebody or having caused trouble for someone. Many people believe that to give an apology is to accept their blame and to admit that they have made a mistake. Others believe that to apologize means to show their understanding of the role they have played in the misfortunes of another. People who have been offended or humiliated often hope for an apology. For some of them, it may be very important to receive an apology from those who have hurt their feelings. They may hope that an apology will restore a sense of justice.

Some people are sure that an apology is a sign of weakness and apologizing means losing face. It is easier for them to accuse another one than acknowledge their fault. It is often unlikely that a boss will apologize to a subordinate, a grown-up will apologize to a child or a man will apologize to a woman.

It is very important to apologize because an apology is a step toward reconciliation, piece and harmony. Apologizing your show your ardent desire to settle a conflict, and be in good terms again. Apologizing you try to assure another person that you will not repeat the offense. A sincere apology often leads to the resolution of a conflict and forgiveness. It is very important to check that another person has understood you and has accepted your apology. Apologizing you should take into consideration that the person whom you have hurt may be rather upset, disappointed or irritated, that is why you should be very patient and delicate. If you feel nervous, think over your words beforehand and try to sound serious and self-confident. Try to avoid mumbling and don’t look aside. The abilities to apologize and to forgive are essential to any long-term relationship. They help build trusting relationships with our parents, relatives, friends, spouses, colleagues or neighbors.

One should never forget that an apology will be accepted only if it is genuine. You should show that you feel deep remorse and you are eager to atone for your offences. Sometimes to forgive is as difficult as to apologize. Everybody must remember that he should forgive as much as he would like to be forgiven.

1. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. An apology is when one feels regret at having offended somebody or
B. People who have been offended or humiliated often
C. Some people are sure that an apology is
D. It is often unlikely that a boss will apologize
E. Apologizing your show your
F. A sincere apology often leads to
G. The abilities to apologize and to forgive are essential to
H. One should never forget that an apology will be accepted only if
1. a sign of weakness.
2. ardent desire to settle a conflict, and be in good terms again.
3. to a subordinate.
4. hope for an apology.
5. it is genuine.
6. any long-term relationship.
7. the resolution of a conflict and forgiveness.
8. having caused trouble for someone.
2. What shouldn’t you do when you apologize? Why? Continue the list – be impatient;
– try to laugh your fault away;
– avert your face;
– mumble something unintelligible;
– behave impudently;
– press recriminations;
3. Answer the questions 1) What is the root of most conflicts? Why?
2) What is an apology?
3) Why do people who have been offended or humiliated hope for an apology?
4) Why is it difficult for many people to apologize?
5) Do you agree that an apology is a sign of weakness? Explain your answer.
6) Why is it very important to apologize?
7) Is it difficult for you to apologize/forgive? Why?
8) Do you agree that a person should forgive as much as he would like to be forgiven?

4. How would you apologize in the following situations? Prepare a short speech. Remember that you should sound convincing and sincere. The words in brackets may help you (Excuse me, I beg you pardon, I apologize, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to offend you, it will never happen again, I assure you, I understand your feelings but…, I awfully regret, I hope you will be able to forgive me, it was a terrible mistake, it is my fault, I just lost control, I was wrong, I can’t forgive myself, can we forget about this unpleasant incident)

– You have broken your sister’s favourite cup and decided to hide the fragments and to say nothing to her. But she has found out the truth and has taken offence.
– You’ve made an appointment with your colleague and you have clean forgotten it. He feels irritated as he has cancelled another important meeting because of you.
– You have forgotten about your friend’s birthday. You haven’t congratulated him and now you don’t know how to explain it so that not to make things worse.
– Two days ago you made fun of your boss and called him a fool and a tyrant. Somebody must have told him about it as he is very angry with you and cavils at every trifle. You feel very ashamed and uncomfortable.
– You have come home rather tired and you have shouted at your little son. Now he is crying bitterly and you feel stupid and mad at yourself.
5. Read the quotations below. Can you agree with them? Choose one of the statements and comment on it – A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.’ (Gilbert K. Chesterton)
– ‘Apology is only egotism wrong side out.’ (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
– ‘It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.’ (P. G. Wodehouse)
– ‘To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense.’ (Ambrose Bierce)
Recall the situation when you had to apologize to somebody. Describe it in detail. Say if this person accepted your apology. Analyze the mistakes you made. Describe your feelings.

A. When is it necessary to apologize? Can an apology help restore good relations?
B. Read the text ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word’ and say if you agree with the words of the famous song.


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