Friday, September 19, 2008

I am sorry, are you sorry?

The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology – Red Auerbach

The word sorry is so abused these days that people no longer mean it when they say, like ‘sorry we are closed’ or ‘sorry I kept you waiting’. I was introduced to meaningless apologies by Doordarshan when they frequently interrupted the telecast (it was the only channel those days and one couldn’t even change channels) and used to apologise with a screen that said ‘sorry for the interruption’. In fact, it has reached a stage where if you really mean it you have to specifically say so, like ‘I am sorry and I really mean it’ or ‘I am really sorry’. By the way, I am really sorry I don’t know who Red Auerbach, whom I have quoted above, is.

People are willing to offer apologies for practically anything these days. Apologies don’t cost money and neither is there a tax on it. And it comes with the added advantage of making the other person happy. So the cunning ones (read salesmen, lawyers, bankers, etc; no, not accountants, they are a nice lot) are handing them out like fliers. Like the woman apologizing to her man that she was sorry she beat him up! However, there is still is a small set of uptight folks who are not all that forthcoming with it. They think that it is beneath their self-respect to apologise, however wrong they might be!

My policy on this is very simple. I, like everyone else, at times (ok, ok, most of the times), do things that bother or hurt others, like forgetting something or making an irritable remark. If my actions have caused any harm, offence, discomfort or inconvenience to a person, I apologise straightaway. Like when I met my wife, I told her that I am sorry I came into her life. I am sorry to my parents that I was born to them. I feel sorry to myself for my present condition. Coming to think of it, I apologise to you for this blog.

The timing of an apology is very important. If you delay, the issue could get complicated and the injured party might be less open to forgiving you. But you would always be able to better Vatican’s timing, which apologises a few hundred years after the deed when the injured parties are no longer around, like when it apologized to Galileo in 1992 after 359 years. Another thing to note is that if you don’t ask forgiveness now, it is quite possible that tomorrow you may no longer feel guilty!

There is a set of smart people who are good at giving false apology, which sounds like a real apology without taking any blame for the action. For example, my girlfriend tells me often, ‘I am sorry that you feel that way.’ She is only sorry for my feeling about her action and not her action per se. Similarly when my wife gets angry, she always apologizes saying she is sorry that I made her angry. Another example is the thief who was sorry that he is to be hanged; not that he is a thief.

Then there is the set of folks who get angry if the apology is not accepted. Like this guy who was caught two-timing and was shouting at his girlfriend, “I told you I am sorry. NOW what is your problem?” Another tactic is to resort to the intent excuse. I used it with my neighbor when I shot his annoying dog, “I am sorry, but I didn’t intend to shoot your dog. The gun somehow used its artificial intelligence and fired at the dog.” Don’t ask me what intent has got to do with the harm caused, but it seems to work somehow.

In the corporate world in particular the art that is followed is called ‘it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.’ Another trick followed is to apologise after stabbing your colleague from behind. That is when I admire my true friends; they don’t stab you from behind, they do it in the front.

A really good method of apologizing is to seek forgiveness by appealing to the other person’s good self. Probably getting a little emotional also helps. Like when I screwed up my wife’s plants I told her, “I am really sorry, but I know with your kind-hearted personality you will forgive me. You know how much I love you and care for you, honey.”

When you are apologizing to a woman, the best bet, of course, is flowers. You get two benefits with a bouquet attached with ‘I am sorry’ note – you get forgiveness for certain, while being actually sorry to the flowers!

I have had a very successful marriage so far and one of the prime reasons for the success has been our willingness to apologise to each other. Whenever I am wrong, I apologise to my wife; and whenever she is wrong, I apologise to her (like a true happily married man). In fact, I have found that an apology is a good way to have the last word!

But the best way to correct wrong actions is to try lying, blaming others, making excuses or justifying our actions. If nothing works, use one of the techniques of apologizing mentioned above and you might get away. Or, you could try singing this.


Anonymous said...

you talk abt girlfriend, wife and thief in one para! hmmm...intentional?

knowing both of you, i am not sure whom i am sorry for :-)

But one thing though - I am sorry; really, i mean it

Resonator said...

Ah! how many 'sorry' used in this post?

and yeah..I really wonder when a person who really apologizes or act like apologizing to a girl before marriage, they really forgets the word 'sorry' after marriage..hehe

happy blogging

ramesh sanijeeth sadasivam said...

I appreciate the humor in this article.But there were also portions which weren't my cup of tea. Good writing.

k.ø.c.h.ü said...

Sorry im late! He he.n this is ma first visit.thanks 4 de comment! Sorry if u feel im lying when i say that de write up was interesting! Sorry if im disturbing u when i ask u 2 keep in touch! :-) keep smiling

rantravereflect/ jane said...

i'm definitely not sorry i came here :)

lol at the benifits of saying sorry 'with and to' the flowers ;)

n yeah the gf n the wife in the same para caught ma attention too..
soo is 'sorry' the new secret to
brazen two-timing?;)


Renu said...

good sense of humour:), reminds me the Q and A by Shatrughan sinha in Filmfare.

Roopa said...

I am not sorry that I read the post though :). Ok, enough! I think there are enough puns and innuendos in there, I don't want to add to those! Not that I could even if I try. You do have a deliberately understated way of writing! And it is highly effective too.

And please, no self-doubts. Although I have a suspicion that even that is a part of your understatement :D

Salil said...

If I say it was unintentional, would you believe me? – See this is the way to tackle difficult questions. If you notice I am neither admitting nor denying.
Ok, apology accepted. But was it intentional what you did? :-)

Thank you for coming here.
I am sorry I used so many sorry in the post :-)
The answer to your 'simple' question is because after marriage he is sorry for himself :-)

Thank you for passing by.
Coffee is also a good drink. Try that :-)

Thank you for your kind comment.
You are bang on and in the true spirit of this post! We are all sorry at the drop of the hat.

Hey, thanks for visiting.
My wife was my girl-friend before and I want to make ALL my girlfriends my wife. So I guess that explains the mention in the same para.
And just for records, two-timing need not be always brazen. Like in my case, I am always ashamed and really sorry :-)

Thank you.
I too used to like Shatrughan Sinha in Filmfare Q&A (no I am not a ‘reader’ of the magazine; this was a forced read in the barber shop!) because of his sarcasm and one-liners, though it was mostly political and he definitely tried to get political mileage.

Ha the Booker herself!
I am glad I have readers like you who appreciate subtle jokes, though at times I intentionally mix the blog with a few not-so-subtle jokes.
I guess your little suspicion is right. The comment was left along the lines of your blog. :-)

Sameera Ansari said...

Good post.The word has really lost its essence,and we tend to misuse it often!

Ganges said...

Hi Salil, esp. liked the part about apologizing to your wife :)

Trinaa said...

hahaha...loved it!! :D

deepsat said...

LOL!!! this is a really good one!!we all do this sometime in our lives!! ;-)))

Renu said...

reading is my hobby, and I read everything:) from savvy society to filmfare,femina, though in earlier times--Illustrated weekly was my favourite, it was a weekly by Pritish nandy.

I Witness said...

Though I have always intended to, I guess its only now that I have been able to post a comment ... guess this is the first comment I am leaving on something on the net, post mouthshut days ...interesting work this Salil..and all your previous posts too ... loved the innuendos ... one clarification however..though I agree with you when you say that word "sorry" does not mean anything anymore ... historically at least the sorry in "I am sorry you feel that way" (an expression of sadness, sorrow or maybe even pity) is different from the sorry in "I am sorry I made you feel that way" (an expression of guilt, remorse) ... so not to sure if the first line qualifies as an apology ...


Nandalal said...

haha.. nice post for people who wants to get trained for 'trying' apologies.

Salil said...

Thank you.
Yeah, sometimes I feel almost every word in English is misused!

I hope you did not think that I was joking :-)

Thank you for passing by.

Yeah, but the trick is not to do this more than ‘sometimes’ :-)

Look who’s here! And boy, am I honoured with the comment? :-*
Sri, you don’t know my girlfriend; hence the confusion. I am not even sure if she knows the meaning of the word sorry :-)
Hope to see you around more often.

Thank you.
All in lighter vein buddy. If you want to read a good article on apology, look somewhere else.

Chronicler said...

sorry seems to be the hardest word is it... haha... sometimes when things realy screw up, sorries become way too difficult to accept..

aria said...

lol @ "sorry I don’t know who Red Auerbach, whom I have quoted above, is."

much like sorry is, 'thank you'... we keep saying thank you.. just for the heck of it ..

rainboy said...

so dude...u are caught red-handed

u have a girlfriend and a wife
remember something??

you bloode multitasker...grrrrrrrrrr

sorry the word has lost it's grace.

Salil said...

Thanks for dropping by.
Well, my point was that these days sorry seems to be the easiest word.
And I hope people who don’t accept apologies know that it doesn’t help ease matters :-)

I said I am 'really' sorry about Red Auerbach, not just sorry :-)
Yeah, I agree, ‘thank you’ also seem to have lost its significance. By the way, thank you for the comment!

If you have met me, you would have said I am caught black-handed!
I never said my girlfriend and my wife are two different persons. (psst psst, my wife has started reading this blog since last couple of weeks. We will exchange the contacts of our girlfriends offline.)
Yes, last I know, sorry has lost grace, lucy, kate and jessica :-)

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Good post Salil...... indeed, apologies come real 'cheap' these days.........

Read somewhere that "True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive"

Wonder if that ever holds true these days!!!!

Thanks for visiting my space!

? said...

The words are so immortal they seem to either get stuck in our throats or come out sounding fake and insincere!

rainboy said...

add me then...
you will have to give me the contact of your girl first ;D

lucy kate and jessica ..

where should i start searching for them.. :D

man in painting said...

so here we have a man who know how to say sorry..
You and sorry..
Salil it is impossible...
i understood from roopa's comments box that you were crying incessantly..
That's why I rushed..
Just loved it man...
waiting for next

Solitaire said...

I am sorry that you came to my blog. Oooops sorry!! I meant..thank you for stopping by my blog! :p

Salil said...

Thank you for coming this way.
As it is said, what we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly.
And that is a very powerful quote about remorse; probably the best quote I have heard in a long time.

Touche, you are bang on!

I cried because I was cutting onions at that time :-)
And if you are not sorry yet, I will ensure you are sorry!

Thank you too to stopping by.
And yeah, I am sorry :-)

Cinderella said...

HOw many times have you used the word and actually meant it, is what interests me right now !!

LOL !!!

A very nice thesis of a word.

Pearl said...

I, too, have wondered about the back-handed apology, the one wherein someone says that they are "sorry that you feel that way", or, "I'm sorry if anything I have done..." Why not just "I'm sorry" and leave it at that?

I think "sorry" has lost its meaning and I blame the lawyers. :-) Apologies are seen in the law as weaknesses and admissions of wrongdoing that may lead to monetary damages...

Anyway. Sorry for the long post.



kavi said...

kollam mone dinesha..., thats is what i want to say... hope to read more of your blogs.Does Ambika critique this.

Chhaya said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmm... Mobile? hahaha, i wonder how a mobile wud smell divine/give warmth/burn through someone's veins ... and more than anything else, i wonder how wud i look if my eyes were of the color of a mobile hahah...
liked yer joke anyways...

Chhaya said...

btw, i guess "excuse me" is even more abused word. what say?

Anonymous said...

Nice article... loved the bit about the "last word"...

By the way Red Auerbach used to be the coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team and is known for his no-nonsense attitude..also known for his "Cigar Smoking" after every Celtic victory...

Sorry for rambling about him... met him once in Boston.. very inspiring man...

Salil said...

Yes, I am one of the cunning ones willing to offer an apology at the drop of a hat. I am sorry if you disagree :-)
Now go figure, how many I meant!

Thank you for the long post. The lawyer angle never struck me.

I too hope that you read more of my blogs.
Ambika does critique it at times, but who cares? (As Aesop said in 600BC, it is easy to be brave from a distance – makes me wonder if his wife also used to stay away from him)

These days’ mobiles are everything else in addition to an instrument to talk.
Excuse me, thank you, sorry, how are you, all are in the category of meaningless words.

Thank you for coming this way.
Nice to know a person who has met Red Auerbach. Now I just need to practice his call for correct actions! And apologies accepted :-)

Gauri said...

Its seems that Saying Sorry isnt that hard enough after all ;) Nice post enjoyed reading it !!

Devika Jyothi said...

Hi Salil,

All that you say holds true.

but may be i used to use this one more ---‘it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. Not every where, only when I worked for corporates. As you said it works best there

Nice post, So when you say:"Coming to think of it, I apologise to you for this blog."

Its not acceptable! I'm sorry. :-)

Keshi said...

No one really wants to say SORRY, even when its THEIR fault. Its a sad world!

One word, and things will be solved. But some ppl refuse to let down their Ego.


Whats In A Name said...

You made me remeber the song " Sorry seems to be the hardest word"

And a wife generally forces the word "Sorry" out of her hubby's throat incase he doesnt utter it...

Kat said...

Well written. And I agree with you - there's one clan that never feels sorry - the Accountants. Uncunning ones..!!!

sansmerci said...

sorry doenst help u have the last word ... most times it starts a new arguement tht if u meant ur sorry or no.. but i had a great lauf readin this as usual :P

now am sorry i have to include this in my comment

chek my new blog


Very, very entertaining. Thanks for a good laugh.

I am reminded of an anecdote about the owner/editor Shankar of Shankar's Weekly, an English magazine published from Delhi, dedicated to satire. It happened many years ago.

When some young men living next to his residence made a lot of noise one night singing and laughing, he came and admonished them. They said 'sorry' - that all rounder word - and he retorted in Malayalam, "Sorry, sorry nnu paranja madhiyo?" ("Is it enough if you say sorry?"
The translation doesn't have the punch of the original.)

I can vouch for it, cos my father was one of the young men.
The mag is now defunct. But Shankar's words live on!

Salil said...

Thank you for being here.
Absolutely, saying sorry is not hard. And I am sorry, it is so :-)

Well, you better be a good employee if you use the ‘easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission’ principle at work. Else you will be sorry :-)

I am willing to. But at times, particularly at home, it still does not seem to solve things.

Exactly, even when I am asleep and my wife calls me, I wake up saying ‘I am sorry for that dear’ :-)
Btw, was Elton John married when he sang that? Guess not.

Ahem.. do you know why accountants don’t feel sorry? – Because they don’t do anything that demands explanation or apology. Remember, Red Auerbach? :-P

Yeah, that is a good point. It has the potential to move into an argument whether the sorry was true or not. Will visit your new blog.

Nice to have you here.
Thank you for sharing the funny anecdote. I have heard about Shankar and also been to the Dolls Musuem.

Devika Jyothi said...

Ha Ha!!

Yeah, Before that happens I'll say sorry (?!)and dump again!!

'You act smart, I'll act smarter' -- is my policy..'Be Kind, I'll be Kinder.'

After all I just need food, clothes..That any Gurudwara offers here, anytime...and as far as there are Ladies Waiting Room in Railway stations ..I am safe..

But I choose to be 'ME'

Hope my previous employers read this!! :-) Now I'm a freelancer..they keep me, if they want me.

Thanks so much Salil, for offering me this opportunity to be vocal...

See you again...

Keshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keshi said...

it doesnt solve things cos some dun MEAN it when they SAY it. And others dun like to ACCEPT it.


Usha Pisharody said...

I am sorry I did not find this blog earlier :)...
I'm not sorry that I dropped in only because you happened to drop by mine, :D...

And .. Lol!

It's with smiles and laughter that some lessons are well learnt... This is one such :) A brave attempt ; Betcha you're not sorry at all, to have drawn so many empathizers :)

Blogrolling you... just to make sure I'm not sorry I missed something...:)

Salil said...

Please feel free to be vocal. You don’t have to be sorry :-)

I am sorry to hear that :-)

Thank you for dropping by and leaving your footprints.
Sorry is such a powerful word to be used with regret or sympathy. But I am sorry to see the way the word is abused :-)

Devika Jyothi said...

Being vocal is my last choice, Salil...I was about to say sorry for that to you there, but missed :-)

'Certain Kind of Woman' hates being vocal publicly!

Usha Pisharody said...

Salil, I agree entirely; it's a word much abused, but I did mean all of that:) And that is why I regard this as one such reminder, that really educates:)
In the classes I teach, it's perhaps the hardest thing to get across, along with the other 2 golden words: Please and Thank you:)And anyway, can one teach this except by example?

Thanks, honestly, for this eye-opener!

Anonymous said...

Mm use sorry when you mean it and only when you mean it. Problem is people use it as many times as they breath that no one thinks anyone means it anymore.

The most I feel annoyed was when after a bad fight with friends a sorry that used to work wonders in the past no longer has a tinge of effect - and thats after you have taken up all your will power to admit to yourself and then to friend that you were wrong! They say "What use is that now. Get lost".
Cruel artificial world of liars, hmph!

Anonymous said...

Quite a pleasant way of telling big things in a simple way...liked your posts...surely will keep visiting...

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