Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

“If you want to know why Harriet Lerner is one of my great heroes, Why Won’t You Apologize? is the answer. This book is a game changer.” —Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Rising Strong“Harriet Lerner is one hell of a wise woman. She draws you in with deft and engaging prose, and then changes your life with her rigorous intelligence and her...

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Title:Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts
Author:Harriet Lerner
Rating:
ISBN:1501129597
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:208 pages

Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts Reviews

  • Dreaday
    Jun 26, 2016

    Mrs. Lerner's ability to clearly articulate what I have been trying to express for years is fantastic. She completely and fully describes what she deems defensive "non-apologies," (AKA "sorry if what I said made you upset" and "sorry you feel that way," among others). The reasons these "apologies"have always seemed hollow to me is because they shift responsibility and place a burden on the person who has been wronged! She even describes over-apologizing as well as addressing underlying issues d

    Mrs. Lerner's ability to clearly articulate what I have been trying to express for years is fantastic. She completely and fully describes what she deems defensive "non-apologies," (AKA "sorry if what I said made you upset" and "sorry you feel that way," among others). The reasons these "apologies"have always seemed hollow to me is because they shift responsibility and place a burden on the person who has been wronged! She even describes over-apologizing as well as addressing underlying issues during the apology in the same vein. I definitely flashed back to some of my "non-apologies" and felt pretty silly. It's common knowledge that an apology isn't about you, but I think a lot of the time we don't even realize we're doing it!

    She also talks really practically about how to accept an apology without acting like the apology and/or conciliatory act wasn't a big deal ("oh, you didn't have to do that, thank you")-- because, let's be honest, yes, they DID have to do that). We've all heard about learning to accept compliments, but apologies aren't usually addressed that way. I didn't know I could do that and still be polite. I will never negate an apology out of politeness again!

    Finally, Mrs. Lerner makes an effort to point out that the word "forgiveness" does not always mean the same thing to everyone. Therefore, forgiveness is not necessarily the only way to move forward from betrayals and/or hurts. Her explanation of forgiveness and her "permission" to only forgive people a certain percentage, but still move on, makes a lot of sense.

    This book is a must-read.

  • Kelsey Manning
    Aug 03, 2016

    Reading this book has already strengthened several relationships in my life. It's so, so much more than your typical advice on apologizes and forgiveness. It inspires you to be a more generous, understanding, big hearted human being. There are so many people I want to (and will) recommend this to.

  • BMR, MSW, LSW
    Jan 25, 2017

    This book wasn't what I expected but it was good nonetheless. I will buy it to read again.

    Recommended for anyone dragging around steamer trunks full of resentment and hurt in their baggage.

  • Andrea McDowell
    Feb 13, 2017

    This was a great book about how apologies should work, and the many reasons they don't, between mostly functional human beings who usually care about each other, and when (and when not) to forgive someone.

    I like to say that a real apology has five parts: 1) the words "I'm sorry" or "I apologize," 2) a description of what offence was committed, 3) an acknowledgement of the damage that offence caused, 4) a promise not to do it again, and 5) some kind of description of how that promise will be kept

    This was a great book about how apologies should work, and the many reasons they don't, between mostly functional human beings who usually care about each other, and when (and when not) to forgive someone.

    I like to say that a real apology has five parts: 1) the words "I'm sorry" or "I apologize," 2) a description of what offence was committed, 3) an acknowledgement of the damage that offence caused, 4) a promise not to do it again, and 5) some kind of description of how that promise will be kept. So:

    "I'm so sorry I spent $5k in Vegas last weekend and then lied and said I spent only $500. I know I made you feel betrayed and broke our trust. It will never happen again. Next time I travel without you I will show you bank statements before and after I go so you can see."

    Or:

    "I'm so sorry I yelled at you and called you a peanuthead. I know that was belittling and hurtful. I won't do it again. Next time I'm that tired and angry, I'll leave the room for a few minutes before we talk so I can avoid calling you names."

    See? Not so hard. Except that it is hard, apparently, in practice, and Lerner goes into a fair amount of detail in describing all the ways that apologies can go drastically wrong and make things worse instead of better:

    I'm so sorry you're so sensitive.

    I'm sorry if that made you angry or whatever.

    I'm sorry but it was a long time ago and you need to get over it.

    I'm sorry. I'm not perfect and I never meant to hurt you.

    I'm sorry if you feel like I lied to you.

    I'm sorry, I don't remember it that way.

    I'm sorry. I tried really hard to meet your unreasonable and difficult needs because I cared about you but I guess I failed because I have a normal human inability to be upfront about what I intend to deliver on.

    I'm sorry for whatever you think I did wrong.

    etc. etc.

    All of which sound like, to the hurt party, "I'm not actually sorry, but I need to have this relationship restored to its former level so I'm going to use the word "sorry" couched in a lot of language making it very clear I consider myself totally blameless and you just completely crazy for being so upset. If you don't forgive me right away I'm going to consider myself the wronged party." And then it doesn't work. Shocking!

    I also appreciated her discussion of when forgiveness is not the right or healing thing to do, and the difference between forgiving and letting go. If you often feel yourself ambushed by the forgiveness police, this chapter alone might be worth reading the book for.

    My only real quibble is her assumption that non-apologizers and faux-apologizers are always well-intentioned people, and her selection of examples to support her theses often go out of their way to avoid situations where that is clearly not true.

    For example, she spends a bit of time talking about a mother-daughter situation where the daughter was molested by her father and the mother, on learning about it, dragged them all into therapy but did not leave her husband/the girl's father for what he did. She left him, instead, years later when he cheated on her (the mom). The story in the book focused on the girl's anger at her mother for not leaving him for the molestation, and what the mother needed to do to repair the relationship in terms of hearing her out and apologizing. Which was all excellent. But the glaring giant purple elephant in the room was the fucking (no pun intended) dad. Who clearly made no attempts to repair the relationship, didn't apologize, and was a monster who molested his daughter. So what about him? What about that relationship? What about the assholes and abusers who can't or won't apologize, not because they're well-intentioned people with shaky self-esteem, but because they are predators without a conscience?

    Lerner doesn't discuss this at all. And it's a real oversight, because I imagine a lot of people picking up this book will be looking for insight and information about these kinds of situations, and her stories provided plenty of material, but she just skipped right past it.

    Good book, quick read, fairly useful--big gaping hole in the middle.

  • Lori L (She Treads Softly)
    Jan 04, 2017

    Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner is very highly recommended, accessible discourse on apologies. This is a practical guide that anyone can understand and benefit from. The information and examples are presented with wit and intelligence. Why Won't You Apologize? would be a great addition to anyone's self-help library.

    Through stories and examples Dr. Lerner explores the healing power of a good apology, how important apologies are, how to craft a

    Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner is very highly recommended, accessible discourse on apologies. This is a practical guide that anyone can understand and benefit from. The information and examples are presented with wit and intelligence. Why Won't You Apologize? would be a great addition to anyone's self-help library.

    Through stories and examples Dr. Lerner explores the healing power of a good apology, how important apologies are, how to craft a meaningful apology and avoid bad apologies, non-apologies, or those that make the hurt worse, and the importance of our response to an apology. Both the non-apologizer and the over-apologizer are discussed. The needs of the injured party are addressed as well as setting limits for tolerating unkindness when listening to another person. Dr. Lerner shares twelve points to keep in mind when we’re on the receiving end of criticism and looks at healthy vs. unhealthy anger. Dr. Lerner also candidly explains why the people who do the worst things are the least able to own up to what they have done. In a startling, first-time-for-me revelation, she helps the injured person resist pressure to forgive too easily and challenges the popular notion that forgiveness is the only path to peace of mind.

    "This book will teach you how to craft a deeply meaningful apology, and decode apologies that are blame-reversing, ambiguous, and downright mean. Going beyond the “how-to’s” of the good apology, we’ll be looking at compelling stories that illustrate how much the simple apology matters and why we so often muck it up. We’ll also be looking at heroic apologies that can open the door to forgiveness and healing in even the most difficult circumstances.

    As the title Why Won’t You Apologize? suggests, the chapters ahead are also for the hurt or angry person who has received a weaselly or insincere apology - or none at all. When we’ve been insulted or injured by someone who just doesn’t get it, we can learn the steps necessary to change the tone of the conversation and get through."

    Harriet Lerner, PhD is a respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for several decades. A distinguished lecturer, consultant, and psychotherapist, she is the author of numerous scholarly articles and popular books.

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    Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of Simon&Schuster.

  • Vanessa
    Jan 28, 2017

    Im impressed. Love the audiobook. This is something that I will re-listen in the future. Helpful to read if you want a meaningful relationship with those you truly care about.

  • Nancy Seamons
    Feb 07, 2017

    All the reasons why we don't want to or feel we should have to apologize and all the reasons why it's important to do provide an honest, heartfelt apology in the correct way.

  • Alana
    Feb 02, 2017

    There is so much wisdom here! I will read this book again. Much of the content has lead me to really challenge my own behaviour in my relationships and has fostered compassion for those in my life who struggle with apologies. The one major flaw of this book was some of the content in the end. Loved her perspective on forgiveness but was a bit frustrated by the lack of practical guidance on how to let go of unproductive anger and bitterness. Dr. Lerner kept encouraging the reader to let go of unp

    There is so much wisdom here! I will read this book again. Much of the content has lead me to really challenge my own behaviour in my relationships and has fostered compassion for those in my life who struggle with apologies. The one major flaw of this book was some of the content in the end. Loved her perspective on forgiveness but was a bit frustrated by the lack of practical guidance on how to let go of unproductive anger and bitterness. Dr. Lerner kept encouraging the reader to let go of unproductive anger with what felt like empty platitudes and her analysis of why we hold on to bitterness felt hollow and judgmental. This is in direct contrast to 85% of the book but it was a turnoff. This was still worth the time and I've benefited greatly from reading this.

  • Jo-lynne
    Feb 03, 2017

    This book has powerful stories and solid theory about how much the simple apology matters and why we so often muck it up. The information and examples are presented with wit and intelligence. Lerner explains how to craft a deeply meaningful “I’m sorry” and avoid making mistakes that only deepen the original injury. She offers a unique perspective and reminds us that as human beings we are going to make mistakes and we are going to feel wronged. This is a book we must all have as a resource.

  • BJ  Brown
    Feb 21, 2017

    That lovely combination between common sense and good insight. If only it were as easy to live as to read!