Our tongues can be faster than our brains and cause damage to our relationships. Here’s a great way to apologize for saying the wrong thing.
Does your tongue sometimes get ahead of your brain?
It’s hard saying things right the first time, isn’t it? Although you may have learned some better ways to say things from books or from your relationship coach, your words may tend to pop out of your mouth the old way–frustrating both you and your spouse. But, no one can change their habits quickly or easily, no matter how much they want to. What to do then, when you slip up and say things the wrong way?
Catch your slip up as quickly as you can
When you first start learning to communicate better, you may not notice you slipped up until you see the upset reaction from your spouse. But, as you practice more, you will start to catch yourself before the sentence has completely left your mouth.
Let’s take an example negative communication
Suppose you are working on making positive requests rather than negative complaints. Your partner does something that triggers an automatic (i.e. habit/reflex) response from you, such as “Why can’t you ever come home on time?” when he or she comes home late. Of course that’s not what your partner wants to hear when he or she first walks in the door and you know that. You see the defensive look on your partner’s face, then you realize your goof.
Apologize and ask permission to try again
Before your partner has a chance to say anything, put up your hand to stop him or her and ask, “I’m sorry, can I try that again?” “I’m glad your home, I missed you.” Accompany this with a warm look and you can even give a hug if it would be welcomed by your spouse. After doing this a few times in the following weeks, you will find a couple of things. First, it will become much easier to say the nice thing than it was at first. Secondly, your spouse will start coming home sooner. The single best way to get your spouse to do something is to create the desire in them to do it.
Don’t be shy about asking to re-say something
Most people will accept a replayed comment, whether they are your boss, your kids, your clients, or your partner. They can see you are trying and that you are human. They have also had the same kind of problem as you at one point in their life or perhaps they still do. Your willingness to correct yourself and be the bigger person will earn you some respect.
It’s better than just saying, “I’m sorry”
After you say, “I’m sorry” a couple of times, it stops having much of an impact on people. They figure that if you were really sorry, you would change. The instant replay method of communication shows them that you understand that what you said was unnecessary or hurtful. And, it immediately demonstrates to them that you are working on changing.
The next time you slip up (and if you are human, you will), say, “Wait. Let me try that again.” And find a nicer way to say whatever it is.
For more help on how to connect through positive communication, even with tough subjects, see my book, Connecting though “Yes!”