Social Question

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Can an apology be genuine if it has to be asked for?

Asked by jo_with_no_space (1457 points ) February 26th, 2010

In a philosophical sense, I mean? The act of apologising is meant to be a kind of gift, a reparation after something wrong. The energy involved in a spontaneous, genuine apology is that of reconciliation. Is that energy altered if the apology is requested?

If the apology becomes the only means by which the afflicted person can seek closure, do the words “I’m sorry” become almost abritrary, like a pill you take to ease the pain?

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37 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

:) it is a pill. but it’s a real pill. the person who apologizes is admitting that they were wrong. as long as the apology is sincere, it counts.

sometimes we don’t realize an apology would be a good idea. so, a reminder (ie. being asked) simply reminds us of our manners. we’re happy to apologize as soon as we realize it is necessary.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@ninjacolin I guess I wonder whether it can be sincere if it has been asked for? Your answer has given me a bit of faith though :)

partyparty's avatar

Whether the apology is requested or not, the fact that the person apologised should be enough – not as meaningful as a spontaneous apology though.

Either way it would take a lot of thought and soul searching to admit they were wrong.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@partyparty Thanks for your answer. For me, receiving the apology is the most important thing, as it requires that the weapons be put down in order to see your opponent’s vulnerability.

JeffVader's avatar

Not in my mind…. the only important thing in an apology is the feeling behind it, if someone’s only apologised as they were asked or told to then they clearly feel there was nothing to apologise for in the first place.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@Cloverfield Yeah, this is what worried me. I still think, though, that the act of them putting themselves in the place where they can see what has been done is constructive.

In the case that it’s not genuine, what is someone meant to do when they cannot move on?

BoBo1946's avatar

First, would not ask for an apology. But, if someone else did, and the person apologized, it should be accepted. Now, was it geniune; that person would have to make that call. Usually the person’s body language would tell if was geniune or not. But, personally, think any apology should be accepted.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@BoBo1946 Asking for an apology admittedly arises from a place of desperation.

Cruiser's avatar

I know I am not the only person stubborn as a mule and there are times an apology takes it’s time finding a way out of my lips. When I do apologize it is as sincere as if it was on the spot at the time if the infraction.

Plus there are times I will wait and wait and wait and then express my desire for an apology if someone messed up and 9.9 times out of ten it too will be genuine and if not they get a pie in the face.

BoBo1946's avatar

@jo_with_no_space oh, understood….you know the situation! We don’t…so, it is a tough call, not knowing the situation and person involved. It will be your call my friend.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@Cruiser It’s good to know that it’s just not me!

JeffVader's avatar

@jo_with_no_space It’s tricky under those circumstances. If someone’s aggrieved you to the point that an apology is necessary before the relationship (whether it be friend, family, or of a more intimate nature) can proceed, & it’s not forthcoming, then I suppose the relationship has to end there.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

An apology is an expression of contriteness. If you have to ask for an apology, you are getting the expression, but perhaps the emotion behind it is “say what I need to say to make this conversation end.”

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@BoBo1946 Thank you :) It makes it harder to tell when this is all carried out by phone…

@Cloverfield Yes :( fortunately, in recent times, they have been forthcoming. I agree that if someone feels that aggrieved that they cannot move on, and the other person will not see what they have done, it is very difficult to find a middle ground.

@PandoraBoxx That’s what worries me. The act, at least, offers a little comfort in that it should require someone to see the other’s emotions.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@jo_with_no_space, I don’t think it always does. Saying “your behavior has really upset me” should draw an apology if the person didn’t mean to upset you, and they are sorry that you are upset. That doesn’t mean that they are sorry for their actions. On the other hand, saying “your behavior has really upset me” could result in a response of “you have no reason to be upset” which could either mean that they person thinks you’re overreacting, or that you interpreted their actions wrong.

Saying “you owe me an apology for your behavior” usually results in “I’m sorry (is the conversation over now?)”

I’m married to a person that never, ever apologizes, and he’s done some pretty awful things. The net result of not paying attention to how your behavior could possibly impact those around you is that it builds walls and barriers, because the person leaves you with a sense of needed to protect yourself from them emotionally. However, apologies are just words, and the real apology is a behavior change. If the person says sorry and continues to act in the same manner, then they’re really not sorry that they upset you. They’re sorry that you’re not okay with what they’re doing.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@PandoraBoxx What else do you suggest when it feels like it’s impossible to move on without an apology?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Unless they are completely unaware of their crime,then I do have a problem with “forced” apologies.

CMaz's avatar

Apology, and apologizing is just a tool. Enabling you or someone else to get from here to there.

BoBo1946's avatar

@jo_with_no_space got’cha! A sincere apology should be “eyeballs to eyeballs!”

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@BoBo1946 Difficult when you live 50miles apart, unfortunately!

BoBo1946's avatar

@jo_with_no_space oh, you would be correct my friend!

jeanna_'s avatar

When I feel someone has wronged me and they haven’t apologized (maybe they don’t understand or agree that they did something wrong) I take the time to explain my feelings. If I end up gaining their understanding and then they apologize, I consider it to be genuine. However, If I have to take the time to explain it, or they just didn’t care enough before to apologize, then it isn’t genuine enough for me. I shouldn’t have to ask and I shouldn’t have to explain; sometimes a person should just apologize for the feelings that have resulted in someone because of something they have said or done. It’s often a matter of pride, it would seem, when someone does not apologize. What is the point in holding it back? You can see the person is hurt…you know they want you to be sorry for what has transpired, so why not feel that and empathize to the point where you can apologize genuinely right in the moment.

john65pennington's avatar

The first apology asked for is never genuine. like “I’M SORRY! shouting this to someone is not from the heart. give this person about three minutes and the real i’m sorry, will preveil. its psychological and once they really think about the situation, the real apology will normally come forward. but, if they are not guilty, you can forget it.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@john65pennington You know what, you are so right! I received an apology that was asked for, and I wondered whether it was genuine, as it was said in the still-hostile feeling of an argument that had just finished. I unexpectedly received a spontaneous apology this afternoon which felt like it meant a lot more.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@jeanna_ You know, so many times, I explain my feelings calmly and clearly, in the hope that them understanding why I’m so upset will prompt a spontaneous apology, and you know, it really often doesn’t. I find that when I just let things cool till later that day or till the following day, I often receive a forthcoming and spontaneous apology without expecting one!

neverawake's avatar

No. When I’m asked to apologize it’s definitely not genuine.

partyparty's avatar

@jo_with_no_space If you are happy with the apology, whether given directly or by phone, then that is all that matters.

dogkittycat's avatar

If an apology has to be asked for then, it’s not genuine. The person who did the wrong, should apolgize without any promting from you or anyone else. If I only received an apology because someone told them to, it wouldn’t make up for the wrong in my eyes, I’d still be upset, infact I’d be even more upset at the person who told/asked them to apologize and the person who messed up because they didn’t do it on their own accord.

susanc's avatar

Who’s never hurt someone without meaning to?
If you have and they refused to tell you, you’d lose the relationship without knowing why.
Why this intense distrust?
I’m amazed.

faye's avatar

I don’t think so. They are meaningless words if not said from the heart.

ratboy's avatar

As a psychopath, I have no way of knowing that I owe someone an apology unless they tell me. If I haven’t taken everything I need from the aggrieved party, I proffer a sincere apology.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@partyparty Thank you :)
@susanc Can you explain what you mean by intense distrust?
@ratboy Thanks for your input. It’s worth remembering that people aren’t always emotionally switched on to others.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yeah I agree with @jeanna_
Sometimes people don’t understand what has happened – I may not ask for an apology but after I express my feelings, they will know that it’s one of the things they may do to begin to rebuild with me. Though apologies don’t mean much to me. What matters more to me is a suggestion on their part as to how the future will be different and sticking to it.

ChaosCross's avatar

Yes, It can.

The most important thing about a real apology is that the person actually means it, regardless of how it is brought up.

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