Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
Apologies and excuses
A few days back, I and my fiancé had a conversation where I said something abrupt. He was offended, but I felt I had not been out of line, because, you know, something and something else. I forget the exact phrasing, but the bottom line was that I was making excuses. The situation started to escalate, in other words we started to dig deeper into what I said and what he said and what happened and why.
The thing that defused the situation? He asked me why I didn’t say “that sounds like…” instead of the “I thought you…”, and I answered that I didn’t realize it was that specific thing that bothered me. I managed to dig out an “I’m sorry that I was so abrupt.” His response? “You’re forgiven.” And that was that.
When I think of a similar situation with the roles reversed – i.e. I’m the one who’s offended by my fiancé’s abrupt words – it makes perfect sense that the apology would do the trick. If I’m offended, I don’t want to hear how I’m in the wrong getting offended in the first place.
Instead, I want to hear that the other person did not want to hurt me, that they know what ticked me off, and that they feel bad about making me feel bad. A good way to accomplish that is a sincere apology.
Why was it so difficult, then, to apologise?
One, I didn’t want to admit that I had communicated in a non-constructive way. I was tired and hungry, and we were talking about something very personal where a lot was at stake. I didn’t have it in me to admit that I was wrong.
Two, from my point of view my argumentation was logical. However, while I was concentrating on my logical argumentation, I failed to listen to my fiancé’s emotions. He was offended, and he had every right to be offended. He had to say it very explicitly before I noticed it. I was focusing on myself, not on the other person.
In other words, I was on my “me me me” -horse and forgot the central rule of impro (that also goes brilliantly with any other communication): help the other person as much as possible. Listen to her, focus on what she’s saying and how, and the rest of the communication takes care of itself. 🙂
Shiva Nata workshop!
Last week, I taught my very first ever Shiva Nata workshop. The crowd was massive – two people and myself. However, we managed to look at spirals, both horizontal and vertical, and go through the logic of level 1 sequences.
We also did a few mirror images and transquarters, so the participants would have an idea of how Shiva Nata eventually links every hand position with every other hand position.
I realized that in a thirty minute session, we would barely manage to scrape the surface, so I prepared a handout. 🙂 True teacher style there. As far as I know, that handout is currently the only existing Finnish material on Shiva Nata. If you want me to email the .jpeg to you, pop me a comment! (You probably don’t want me to publish your email, so I’ll edit it out before I approve your comment…)
The fun part about drawing up the handout was that I really had to think about what’s fundamental. What do I want to convey in the thirty minutes we have? What do I want to include so the participants don’t run screaming at the sight of Frankenstein’s Handout? What do I have to include so the participants can continue on their own after the session?
Teaching the workshop was fun! I had slight difficulties in reading the numbers from right to left. What helped, though, was that I had originally slacked off with reading the numbers out loud, so I wasn’t really used to reading them one way or the other anyway. Neil’s advice about reading the numbers helped, too.
I had to think of a beam of light going from right to left to really visualize the position of my hands and to be able to read them out, but I didn’t screw up as many times as I expected to. In the context of Shiva Nata, I should probably be disappointed with this. 🙂
I’m fairly enthusiastic about teaching another workshop. Even more so since there were several people who told me they really wanted to come to the workshop but had to attend meetings and lectures and such instead.
It’s spring in Helsinki. I wore my spring coat and summer heels today. Life could be worse, all things considered. 🙂
Thank you so much for stopping by, feel free to hang out in the comments and share your own tidbits!