The Magic and Power in a Word

18 06 2009

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted something, you’re parents always said “what’s the magic word?”  You said please, and got your cookie, toy or whatever it was you were asking for.

Now please is a nice word, but is it really Magic?  Does it really alter how people feel about what you say or do?  Perhaps it’s just my personal perspective, but not especially.  I notice when kids don’t say please,

I'm Sorry

I'm Sorry

but generally speaking say it or not as long as you are reasonable and polite there is no issue.  If someone asks you for something, and you’re disinclined to acquiesce but then they say please does it make any difference?  Not really.

So what is the real Magic word(s)?

I’m Sorry.

Seriously think about it.  There is far more power in these little words than almost any other.  They are for more likely, than anything else one could say, to invoke a strong emotional response. Positive or negative.

This was at the end but I’ll put it here for those who don’t make it.  If you read it I mean it for you. (*insert hand pointing from me to you)

I truly and sincerely apologize to you, for any intentional or inadvertent insensitive or stupid thing I have said or done that caused you pain.  I’m Sorry.

An example: While being vague I’m divulging my private thoughts and experiences, which I do not do often so enjoy the peek into the inner me.

I am/was very upset with a friend.  Angry, frustrated, hurt by some ‘low blows’ that were part of the exchange.  We have spoken several times since the issue came to a head, but no resolution.  Just round and round, with “well you said..” and “you did..” neither party right, both parties wrong.   Every time we have spoken, there seems to be some resolution (in some small part anyway), but I quickly become angry, and upset about it again.   I felt insulted, embarrassed and frustrated, my friend was equally frustrated I’m sure as well as hurt that I didn’t trust them (my lack of trust, while possibly understandable,  was unfair and now I’m sorry for how much that must have stung).

I sent an email trying to outline why I was so agrivated and unable to drop it, and round and round it went again.  Me, never being satisfied with the answers I was getting… it wasn’t enough.  Or else it made things worse, giving me more fuel for the ‘fire’.  I know my friend was tired of talking about it and just wanted the issue resolved, but nothing was making it go away.  I felt I wasn’t being heard, but that was my fault because I wasn’t really saying anything.

Recently we had a conversation that stared the same as all the others, casual chatting and then near argument.  At some point in the most recent exchange my friend in a very frustrated tone, said (something along these lines) “I’ve tried to be clear, I just don’t know what you want me to say.  What can I say to make this better”.

Now it’s interested becaye if emotions were running high and I wasn’t quite upset I have no idea what I might have said.  But in the heat of my anger the simple truth came out.  I didn’t want them to fix it, it couldn’t be fixed.  I didn’t want them to ‘take it back”, or change their mind, it couldn’t be taken back, and changing minds wouldn’t do anything.  It was too late for all that.  So what in blazes did I want or need???  I certainly didn’t know.

But near tears, when thay said “what can I say?” I burst out with “Well how about an appology?!?”  In all the explinations, and back and forth my friend had never appologized.  They had saidt things of the nature of “I shouldn’t have said that”, and “hind sight is 20/20”.  But not a clear and simple I’m sorry.

So what right?  That’s what I thought even as I asked for it.  I mean, fine you apologized, what’s that going to do?  Nothing… just empty meaningless words. Right?

Wrong!  Wait let me say it again, WRONG!

My friend apologized, really apologized, not begging for forgiveness or some bs like that.  But we continued our ‘heated discussion and at least twice they said, I’m really sorry I did or said “xyz”.  Now the effect wasn’t immediately apparent, so much so that it would be very easy to miss the connection.  I certainly did.   My friend apologized (( I had a huge welling of emotion and thanked them for the apology), but nothing was different I was still upset, hell we even bickered about the whole thing for a while afterwards.

But it trailed off, we ended up having a quite a nice conversation afterwards.

I left feeling like something had been resolved.  Hang on what was resolved, I was still pissed about what had happened…?  Hu.. Oh well on with life.

Well today I was thinking on the whole thing and was surprised to find I was no longer ‘upset’.  Hang on… No I’m still displeased with the train of events and how thing unfolded.  I’m still a little unhappy about the result (but am and have been making the most of the decisions I have made and being happy with them regardless of any disappointment or anger).  So what’s different?  Obviously it was that last exchange we had… but it was just more of the same.  Wasn’t it?  I very literally was racking my brain trying to discern exactly what it was… some clear point of resolution.  It should be obvious, but it really wasn’t.

Finally it occured to me that the ONLY thing different to every other conversation and exchange was that my friend said “I’m sorry.”  It didn’t stand out because it was in the middle and as far as events go it wasn’t particularly cataclysmic.  But I think about the moment, when I angrily said “you could appoligize” and my friend almost sounded surprised like it hadn’t occured to either of us that that would work or that it had not been already said.  And my friend said those Magic little words “I’m sorry”.

You know when someone says something that cuts deeply, really tuely hurts, those words will ring in your mind?  I had that somethings that were said echoed in my head, cutting over and over again (yes I know I have power over than and I should be better about it .. shhh).   Well as I sit here and think back, the appology, rings like soothing music that calms the beast.  At the moment it was said, there was seemingly little effect.  But today I can tell you it changed everything.

The Magic in a word.

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11 responses

18 06 2009
cherokeebydesign

It seems certain words do carry alittle “magic” with them.

For whatever reason those magic words tend to ease the pain other have placed on us at times.

Raven
http://cherokeebydesign.wordpress.com/

18 06 2009
Magdalicious

I’m a fan of Magic, for what ever reason it works 🙂

18 06 2009
Nadine

lol – I owe a lot of my current relationships to mastering the apology! Because of my lack of tact and tendency to speak/act impulsively, I have, without ever meaning to, hurt a lot of people’s feelings. While it’s never been a quick fix, people usually remember that at least I acknowledged that I was an asshole (again, never intentionally) and apologized for it, and the relationship, whatever it is, can be salvaged. Great post, Mag.

18 06 2009
Magdalicious

You’re right by no means do the words or sentiment erase or undo what has been done. But they go a long way to mending the fences. Something I may have failed to mention in the post is I apologize on the regular, I’m always messing up. And I’ve been told that it’s often the reason that I’ve been able to salvage situations, my readiness to apologize.

19 06 2009
Dee

Same here. And with Mom, too. (although she may deny being the common de-mom-inator)

Arguements can go round and round and round, but all it takes is sincere apology for hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and while the issue itself does not go away, the resentment does.

19 06 2009
Magdalicious

EXACTLY

19 06 2009
peggy vince

While I read this post I thought to myself that it is absolutely true. Where we all know that I’m the greatest grudge holder in the world. I have to say that in every case where I hold a grudge for time without end the person who showed no remorse for their actions were taken in a responsibility. The person that angered or hurt me never apologized. One of the people I have never forgiven it was a merchant in Smithers when I was a young. This person sold me something for my father for around $300 I think to yourself what’s $300 but that is the equivalent of about $3000 now so needless to say it was a lot of money and it was for my dad birthday. My dad used itthe first time and it broke was just normal use. And the guy qho sold me the item he assured me that it would work for my dad. When I took it back to the store a showed what happened he told me the replacement part would be hundred $150. I could not afford to fix it as we all new it would just break again the first time my father would use it. The guy never said he was sorry. he give me the wrong information and talk me into buying a very expensive gift that was useless. so this blog post is a right sorry is the magic word.

19 06 2009
Magdalicious

That sucks ! Yeah even if he couldn’t do anything, an apology would have made things better.

21 06 2009
Paul

I’m sorry…this post was really long and I read the first three lines. Any chance of a tweet for the AdD concious?

;P (I know, Iz a jerkface)

23 06 2009
marcus

I’ve learned super magic words that I can share here. Be careful when you use them because once they are used too much, they lose their magic. From the mind of a true genius Dave Chappelle (via Rick James):

I’m sorry. I was having too much fun

works everytime

23 06 2009
Magdalicious

LOL nice :D…. I touch you were going to quote the “F%#k yo couch NIGGA!” skit

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