Posted by The Family Law Company on 9th April 2014

From toddlers to MPs, from Archbishops to atheists, we all get it wrong sometimes.

Sometimes this involves a major breach of trust, enough to fracture a relationship, sometimes the impact is less, but nevertheless wounds a relationship.

It is an almost universal experience that when we do get it wrong, we find it really hard to own up and say and mean that word “sorry”.

Why is that? Well it means taking personal responsibility for what has happened, admitting that we don’t measure up to the self image of being justified, perfect, right, good, and acknowledging that sometimes we’re wrong and that we fail.

A begrudging “sorry“ is worse than saying nothing at all, because it is clear to anyone who hears that it is not meant, and it is the intent which is everything. To be able to empathise with the individual or population which feels hurt or betrayed, to show that you know how it feels to be on the receiving end, is the key.

Otherwise there can be no hope or expectation of change.

In his book The 5 Languages of Apology Gary Chapman highlights how for some people well meant words are all they need, an acknowledgement, for others words mean nothing and are cheap, and those people need to see words backed by action.

In the context of family relationships, a breach of trust may not mean the end of a relationship if the repair work is undertaken swiftly and meaningfully. Learn your partner’s language of apology, and help them understand yours.

MPs can start by being genuine, if they are truly sorry, and making full redress showing due remorse. Parents and partners need to keep grievance accounts short, so as not to let any grudge form a wedge which could ultimately lead to a fracture in their relationship. It takes work to make and sustain a relationship!

A question many find themselves asking is “what have I got to do to be heard”, because “sorry seems to be the hardest word” and adjusting our language accordingly can save a career, and a relationship.

For more information on Family Law and alternatives to court, visit our family mediation guides here.

Logo for the bronze award for defence employer recognition scheme of 2015The Family Law society accreditation in Advanced Family lawImage of The Law Society Accreditation of Children Law.
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