Six Step Apology (Pt 6)
Wow, we are finally on step six! Thanks for sticking with me as we went through the previous five steps which take us through both establishing responsibility for hurting someone and developing accountability to keep us from doing it again.
At this point it feels a bit like climbing a mountain. Each crest seemed like a false summit and the higher we’ve gone, the harder it’s become. Here are the steps again as taught by Ford Taylor in Transformational Leadership:
- Acknowledge the offense: “I did _____.”
- Admit, “I was wrong.”
- Use the words, “I am sorry; I apologize.”
- Ask, “Will you (when you can) forgive me?”
- Say, “I give you permission to hold me accountable.”
If you are anything like me, you just want all this emotional stuff to be over. This process isn’t easy and requires a lot of energy. All I want at this point is “Are we okay?” a hug, handshake, or smile, and if things are really good, maybe a trip to Dairy Queen to celebrate.
Hold on, you aren’t quite done yet and I’m afraid there is a bit more emotional stuff before you get to the Blizzard (Chocolate Xtreme if you are buying me one).
The sixth step is like an exponent and is very powerful in healing relationships. It sounds simple but may be much harder than all the other steps.
6. Is there anything else I need to apologize for?
I remember the first time I walked through the Six Step Apology. I had just learned it and was kneeling in front of my four-year-old. I looked her in the eye, and said, “I shouted at you and it made you feel scared, that I was going to hurt you. I was wrong, I’m sorry. I apologize. When you are ready, will you forgive me?” At this point she looked at me with her big eyes and tears were still on her cheeks. She said, “I forgive you,” and gave me a hug. She seemed so much more at ease and comfortable with me.
My knees were hurting and I was getting ready to get up when I remembered step six. I asked her, “Is there anything else I need to apologize for?” I was starting to get up when she said, “Yes,” and told me what I had done. She was right! I had hurt her in another way that I didn’t even know about. I felt horrible. I walked through the apology again and by now my knees were killing me. I asked again, “Is there anything else I need to apologize for?” and she again said, “Yes.” Once again I had hurt her and didn’t even know about it. I couldn’t believe that I had hurt her and didn’t even realize it. Third time through, “Is there anything else I need to apologize for?” and she said, “No.” She gave me a huge hug and walked away.
I sunk down onto the floor. I was crushed. I thought I was doing such a good job as a dad but I was doing things that hurt my little girl on the inside. I was only given the chance to know and apologize for those hurts when I asked and proved myself trustworthy. I was also so thankful that I had asked and was given the chance to apologize.
It isn’t easy but I can tell you that opening yourself up to the truth of how you impact the people around you can be one of the most humbling and powerful things you can do.
I want to challenge you as we end this series to not only memorize the six steps but to commit to all six steps, and work to bring healing not only for the hurts you know about, but those that you may not yet realize you’ve inflicted.
I can tell you from experience that the process is hard but the healing is sweet.