Family feuds: and how to say sorry

Ever had a spectacular family falling out, digging your heels in on an issue in the heat of the moment only to realise later that the pain and angst it caused was simply not worth it? Or perhaps when you looked into the actual facts of the situation you were standing up to fight about, you found you were in the wrong?   Families will be families and where there is love there is often dispute too.  Sure, it is not always your fault, but there is always an opportunity in life to apologise and make amends, even if it is just to try and keep the peace.

I know in my family, there is not a year that goes by that doesn’t require some kind of in-family apology.  This year it was the eloquent mutual apology between my mum and my brother after a spectacular dispute that caused us all to explore the methods for good apologies.  Funnily enough, my sister in law nailed it, on a recent trip to Australia to visit (they live in the US).  She saw mum for the first time since a large and emotional argument about a year ago, and extended a box of Cadbury’s Roses.  But what are the other ways that an apology can be felt and how should you go about it?

We all know how it feels to be on the wrong end of a dispute.  It can make you feel sick with worry not knowing how the situation might resolve itself or whether it will do so at all.  So if you are in the wrong, it is important you reflect on this feeling and remember that apologising needs to come with a full acknowledgement of what has been done that is “wrong”.  Even if you aren’t in the wrong you might choose to apologise out of the desire to not escalate the conflict further.  A good quality apology can make it clear that you want to put your relationship first, ahead of “winning”.

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So how do you do it…? Here’s some tips.

1.  Consider whether you want to apologise in a quiet and humble way, or in a “quick and intense” way.  Each is a valid way to apologise, but quick and intense is said to be more effective, addressing the issue quickly, within the shortest possible time from when the disagreement happened.  We all know that the longer a fight goes on, the deeper the emotional wounds are.

2.  Make sure your apology is true and honest.  It really does need to come from the heart for someone to feel it.  And you need to show genuine feeling about why your loved one is upset.

3.  Take a proactive stance to discuss how you might avoid the same thing happening in the future.

4.  Consider an olive branch gesture to show just how much you value the loved one.  It might be a gift, a note, or a box of Roses as per my sister-in-law and mother’s recent dispute

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Best of luck.  Sorry can be the hardest thing to say or the most rewarding, or both at once.

Have you battled with family feuds and the need and desire to give or receive an apology?  What tips can you share?