Recently I received an email from a woman who told me how badly she felt for many many years because when she was young her father married a woman and she felt like she’d been abandoned for her father’s new wife and his new step-daughter. She asked me how she could get him to apologize for all of this. Now here is the bottom line, you can’t make someone apologize. I know we would love to; I would love to get politicians to apologize for screwing up my country. But then we live in a democracy and they have to do something about it. So what do you do if you want to get someone to apologize?
Well here is the thing, breathe deeply, be clear on what happened and how you felt. You can talk to them about it, but it’s up to them to decide whether or not they are going to apologize. So here is what I would suggest for this person for example. Pick a relaxed time with that person. Don’t ever do it in a place where you’ve had a confrontation or a fight, but a time when you are both sitting around speaking casually and start really gently.
You can say something like. “There is something I have been meaning to tell you.” The worst thing you can say is, “I need to talk to you.” We do that sometimes and that just puts the other person’s defenses right up. But if you say very gently, “There is something I have been meaning to tell you…” and then tell them what happened and your feelings about it.
So in this example you can say, “When I was little, and you got married again, we didn’t have a lot of time to spend together and I felt like you spent more time with your new wife and daughter and I didn’t feel you had any time for me.” Then you tell them what you felt about it “I felt very lonely and abandoned and I really missed my father.” And then you need to end in some way that leaves an opening for the other person. Tell them how much you love them and tell them why you are telling them.
So in this case, she could say, “I am telling you this now because I love you and I think it’s important that you know how I felt.” Or if it’s not someone that you love, you could say, “I am telling you this because I care for you.”
Now the end of that story is that she did tell her father those things and he said it was wrong and that he was sorry. So you never know what can happen, you need to leave the door open.
Check out www.ShellesTopTips.com If you want some tips on communicating and solving some of the problems.