Saying Sorry Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong

Picture this for a moment: There is a family gathering and someone, let’s call him Talker, is less than sensitive during a conversation — maybe too honest, maybe forgetting that adults, unlike children, filter conversation for the sake of peace and harmony.

One thing leads to another, and Talker hurls careless words like blades. Words directed at another family member and it’s obvious they cut deep — unnecessarily so.


Some folks detest lack of sensibility in any situation, let alone in a party setting.  So, they pull Talker aside and say: “Cut it out. Grow up. Show some tact.” That leads to additional words, none pleasant. Things are eventually worked out, but resentment  builds like a distant storm.

Feelings are hurt, egoes are trampled upon, and silence replaces laughter for a while.


Eventually, everyone is back to talking, having fun. There is laughter, but it’s never the same for some participants. They go home with this heavy feeling — Talker was wrong … but maybe, just maybe, they should have kept quiet. Should not have said everything they said to him. Trying to see both sides, maybe there’s more to the story — a nuance they don’t know. Is there?

To right a ‘wrong’ — this is family, after all — calls are made, apologies offered. We want the bad feeling to stop. Value relationship more than  ego. There’s guilt. So many reasons to call.

We’re comforted by the words we hear, by the promises made. Everything is fine. Maybe. Lingering doubt remains, but peace of mind feels so good.


So, what say you? Apologies: force them out, regardless of the situation, to make bad feelings go away?


Photo credits:

Peace Out Art Print by Skye Zambrana | Society6; artofagoodapology.jpg; i_wouldn__t_trust_you_anyway_by_mssirpercy


19 responses to “Saying Sorry Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong

  1. I agree with the idea. Apologizing to eliminate bad feelings can save relationships. They are a way to bridge a developing gap between two parties.

  2. These situations are so common in families…. it’s hard to say what is “right” or “wrong” and have to be dealt with on a situation by situation basis. Both parties have been hurt and the rest feel the ripples. Love the photos you used to accompany this… most interesting!

  3. Great visuals with this, Sylvia. As the recent participant in the return of the prodigal son on Mother’s Day (stealing all the thunder from the mothers present..) (not that I need thunder, have plenty)…and since his “crimes” were ACTUAL,DO JAIL TIME crimes, I’m really not so much in the forgiving mood. But everyone else was so I did my dutiful daughter-in-law bit and didn’t stir the pot.
    I guess all that to say, it’s situation dependent.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  4. Hi Sylvia, great post thank you – it happens too often whether among family or friends. Yes, it’s always important to clear the air but in terms of apologies I think it’s important that the recipient of the apology asks the one making it, to clarify exactly what it is they are apologising for. So that both are clear – it’s one thing to say ‘sorry’, but I want to know (if someone says ‘sorry’ to me) that that person is very clear on how and why I have been distressed, hurt, angered etc, and that is what they are apologising for. I guess what I am saying is that I want that ‘other’ to acknowledge their part in it but in a conscious way and not with just a simple ‘sorry’.

  5. Hi Silvia .. these are always difficult situations and some people are intractable .. and just don’t seem to realise the pain they cause, or what effect their words have had … it’s learning to adjust in life – that’s essential. A family with a mediator, someone who diffuses a situation can be so helpful and they’re lucky that’s they have such a person … sometimes the situation can be diffused before it happens – but then everyone has to be aware, and around and that’s not always the case.

    You’re going to get some interesting thoughts here .. Cheers Hilary

  6. It’s a hard one, that’s for sure.

  7. To me, it depends how much I want to keep the relationship (or not cause waves amongst the other relationships you want to keep). If you do, then the apology (acknowledging that wrong was done, often on both sides) is important. But some relationships really aren’t worth putting up with. (Family complicates the issue of course.)

  8. This nearly describes my situation with my brother. I tried to make amends, but the only way I could do that would be to say he was 100% right and justified in what he did and said, and know he would feel free to do the same again. I totally believe the entire thing came from miscommunication and assumptions on both sides, but his reaction to it is his reaction to most things, and that I can’t have anymore. Not for me, nor my children. And maybe because he did it to my children is why I have finally stepped away. It’s not easy, and I wish apologies would make things better, but there will never be an apology from his side. I know that now. Look at me go on. If this is a real situation for you I hope you are able to resolve and reconcile with your Talker.

  9. i think there is danger in apologies that just sweep things under the rug…and then the same thing happens again and again…and it never really gets better its a false peace…to me it sounds like there needs to be some really honest conversation about the issues..more so than apologies…smiles.

    thanks for bopping over from tina’s today…nice to meet you.

  10. I think you know when you’ve gone too far and when an apology is needed.

  11. sometimes i am too stubborn and won’t apologise and then it just sort of wafts around like a bad smell…it is hard to apologise but i am pretty sure it could safe relationships if oneself gets over their pride and stubbornness :(

  12. It is hard to say sorry when you don’t mean it, you may be able to apologize for crossing a line or inappropriate timing but sometimes a truth comes out, a truth or feeling from a certain perspective, within a family you just need to learn to move on, knowing things will never quite be the same but that is o.k. too, sometimes that is how life goes, can’t always be the same.

  13. Good question. Let it ride or force an apology?

    If anything, I have learned that it is time to let it ride. Let the talker make a big blunder, hurt people. We all learn lessons after being around talkers like this one. We learn that we are bigger people, that the talker is a jerk, and forgive/move on.

    Excellent post, Silvia. Very timely. Susan Kane

    On Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 4:18 PM, Silvia Writes

  14. It’s a hard one especially with families but if you can stick with honesty and the truth things always seem to work out in the end. I’ve found it can cause more problems to brush things under the carpet, better to bring out emotions and opinions from all sides, deal with it and then move on. Not easy but who ever said life was easy? I also loved the images, great post as usual.

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