Why Won’t You Apologize? A Book Review

Today, I’m excited to share the key insights from one of the best books I’ve read this year, Why Won’t You Apologize? By Harriet Lerner.

“We are imperfect human beings and prone to error and defensiveness. So the challenge of offering a heartfelt apology permeates almost every relationship. We take turns at being the offender and the offended until our very last breath. It’s reassuring to know that we have the possibility to set things right.”

I was really blown away by the part of the book that discusses the many ways that we can ruin an apology:

  • Using the word “but.”
  • Apologizing for the other person’s feelings.
  • “I’m sorry if ______.”
  • Demanding an apology.
  • Being pushy when it’s bad timing for an apology.

“The purpose of an apology is to calm and soothe the hurt party.”

Lerner gives several great tips for giving an apology:

  • Calm yourself beforehand using slow and deep breaths.
  • Listen only to understand.
  • “Do not interrupt, argue, refute, or correct facts or bring up your own criticism or complaints.”
  • Ask questions about what you don’t understand.
  • Apologize only for your part of the conflict.
  • “Don’t listen when you can’t listen well.” In other words, reschedule for a time when you’re able to hear and speak clearly.

Other Noteworthy Quotes:

“Words of apology, no matter how sincere, will not heal a broken connection if we haven’t listened well to the hurt party’s anger and pain.”

“Every relationship is a cross-cultural experience of sorts because we all view reality through certain filters.”

“The phrase, I don’t want to talk about it, when it goes beyond taking temporary distance and becomes a pervasive strategy, is the death nail of an intimate relationship.”

“It is no one else’s job; not that of your therapist, mother, teacher, spiritual guide, best friend, or relationship expert to tell you to forgive or not to.”

“How do you find peace when the hurt you’ve suffered will never be acknowledged or repaired by the one who inflicted it? The answer is as simple as the challenge is daunting: any way you can.”

I’m sorry are the two most healing words in the human language.”

Thanks for reading! You can find this book here.

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2 thoughts on “Why Won’t You Apologize? A Book Review”

  1. JM says:

    You write truth my friend.
    Love the quote:
    Every relationship is a cross-cultural experience of sorts because we all view reality through certain filters.”

    Have a great day

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