The Real Reason Why You Must Apologize

Life involves a series of rules, according to the character Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the long-running TV show, NCIS. 

large upright rock appears to be the profile of a man

It’s harder to admit a mistake than to deny you made it. So why would anyone say that making an apology is a sign of weakness?

One of those rules is Rule #6, “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.”

Gibbs got it wrong.

It’s harder to admit a mistake than to deny you made it. So which action is the sign of weakness?

It’s not a sign of weakness to apologize. It’s a sign of strength. But that’s not the real reason why you must apologize.

If you’re like many people, apologizing for your mistakes is something that you never quite get around to doing. You put it off until you can tell yourself that your mistake doesn’t matter any longer. You tell yourself the other person has ‘gotten over it.’ You might even tell yourself that if the other person hasn’t forgiven and forgotten, it’s his shortcoming for holding a grudge. It’s certainly not because of your failing to acknowledge your mistake and making amends.

Or, when you do apologize, the apology is inadequate because your words put distance between you and your mistake. You offer excuses. Or you make some other error in an effort to ease your discomfort.

Wrong Does Not Equal Weak

Yes, it’s hard to apologize because it’s hard to admit that you’re wrong. It’s hard to apologize because you equate being wrong with being weak, and you fear weakness. You fear failure. You fear imperfection. You fear ridicule.

The thing about being wrong is that usually by the time you’ve figured it out, those around you have known it for a while. The truth is, yes, sometimes you’re wrong.

Yet, with the rare exception of dealing with a truly broken person, your apology will be met with gracious acceptance and forgiveness. Your relationship with the person you apologize to will be better for it. Not only in the short term, but over the long haul.

  • Aw, that’s okay.
  • I get it.
  • No problem.
  • It happens.
  • You didn’t mean to.
  • I’m sorry too.
  • Thank you.

I’ve talked about how to make a good apology in some previous posts and how to avoid common apology mistakes.

“Rule #6: Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness.” 

~ Leroy Jethro Gibbs, portrayed by Mark Harmon, NCIS

4 Reasons to Violate Rule # 6

The bigger truth about why you must apologize is this: when you’re able to admit your mistakes and apologize for them, you become a stronger and better person. Your relationship with yourself is better for it.

There are at least four reasons why you need to violate Rule #6. You might think of some others.

  • Give yourself the gift of maintaining your integrity.
  • Experience the quiet pride that comes with doing the hard thing, the right thing.
  • Own that part of yourself that is less than perfect.
  • You can’t forget your mistakes until you forgive yourself for them.

Live Honest, Open and True

While some might see your apology as a sign of weakness, the truth is that it is harder to admit your mistake and ask for forgiveness than it is to hide behind the lie. When you make a mistake, admit it, ask for forgiveness, and move on. The alternative is to remain hidden behind your lie.

I believe in you and want the best for you and know you can achieve the best for yourself.

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Tweet: It’s harder to admit a mistake than to deny it. So, which is a sign of weakness? A blog post by D’Anne Hotchkiss

Do you find it hard to admit your mistakes and to ask for forgiveness? What advice do you have? Tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LiveHOT.

Related Posts: Apologies and Rule #6

Yes, Do Forgive and Forget

No, Don’t Forgive and Forget

Forgive Yourself and the Past will Stop Calling You

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