July 18, 2008
Don't look for apology; state what you want
Q: One of my co-workers has been thoughtless and rude to me. I think he owes me an apology. I always apologize when I make mistakes. How can I get the apology I deserve?
A: If you got the apology, how would you feel differently?
Most people would say that they would feel "right" or validated because the other person has admitted they are "wrong." Unfortunately, needing other people to be "wrong" to get what you want means you will rarely get what you want.
Your co-worker is probably under the same misconception that being "right" means you can feel good about yourself and being "wrong" means you can't. However, when we get in a battle to be "right" and avoid being "wrong" we are constantly insecure, worried and unable to learn anything for fear of making mistakes.
Nobody feels much peace when they are fighting with others to win the self-esteem game.
Rather than waiting for your co-worker to validate your experience with an apology, why not validate your experience yourself. Then ask yourself what else you want from your co-worker.
Most of us think that what we want is for other people to admit they are wrong. Then we expect them to give us what we want. News flash: People who feel wrong are in no mood for giving anything!
Whether you deserve an apology or not, you will rarely get one. Most people are just too certain that saying "I'm sorry" means they are bad. What if you skipped the part where you expected others to admit they're jerks and went straight for saying what you wanted?
For instance, you could say, "When you use my keyboard, please use the wipes on my desk first, or I can't let you use my keyboard." Notice how this phrase leaves out how they are thoughtless germ hounds that gave you eight colds last year.
By the way, hats off to you for realizing that apologizing to others has nothing to do with your self-esteem. However, realize you don't need the rest of the world to give you an apology as much as you need them to give you what you want.
The last word(s)
Q: A co-worker told me another co-worker thinks I'm stupid. Is there anything wrong with giving her a piece of my mind?
A: Yes, if you want peace of mind, never assume gossip is the gospel. Ask your co-worker if she's concerned about your work before you create unnecessary conflict.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube.
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