“Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.”
What is apologizing?
It is an important ritual, a way of showing respect and empathy for the wronged person. The goal of apologizing is generally forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration of the relationship between the people involved in a dispute. According to the attribution theory, giving an apology leads to less conflict and increases communication satisfaction. But what if the opposite is true?
What if the apology will only open the floodgates to further accusations and conflict? Once you admit to one wrongdoing, surely the other person will pounce on the opportunity to pile on all the previous offenses for which you refused to apologize as well. One must also not forget that apologizing opens the door to guilt which in turn might open the door to shame. Or if the opposite is true, apologizing opens the door to shame which in turn might open the door to guilt.
By refusing to apologize, non-apologists are trying to manage their emotions. They are often comfortable with anger, irritability, and emotional distance, and experience emotional closeness and vulnerability to be extremely threatening. Lowering their guard even slightly will make their psychological defenses crumble and open the floodgates to a well of sadness and despair that will pour out of them, leaving them powerless to stop it. They might be correct.
But what if the opposite is true and they are incorrect in assuming that exhibiting these deep and pent-up emotions will be traumatic and damaging. Opening up in such a way is often incredibly therapeutic and empowering, and it can lead them to experience far deeper emotional closeness and trust toward the other person, significantly deepening their relationship satisfaction.
In the final analysis, truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two. So one must say: Sorry, not sorry.
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