Does The Olive Branch Have Thorns
I am sure all of us remember from the time we were small that children were told to tell someone we were sorry if we did something wrong. And, of course, that training carries over into adulthood. And I am also pretty sure that most of us have been the recipients of apologies that were not quite real. I call these “apologies with thorns”.
image from www.soxfirst.com
I think it is important to extend the olive branch when there is something gone wrong between people and most people will apologize sincerely but there are always some who will hand you a bouquet of roses filled with those razor-sharp thorns like hedge roses have. You know, the kind where the roses look beautiful until you stick your hand in and then those backwards thorns grab you. And those kinds of apologizes will rip you where no one can see.
One kind of apology is the one where the person says “I’m sorry, BUT if…” This means the person is saying they are sorry but something or someone else is to blame. They are not. I am sure you remember the kind….”I am sorry but if I had not been working such long hours, I might not have been so sharp”. Or, “I am sorry, but if you had not said such and such, I might not have gotten so angry.” I hate these as these are comments abusers use a lot too.
Another kind of apology is the one said in that tone of voice that means they are not really sorry at all. You know…..the “I’M SOR…RY!!!” or “Well, EXCU UU SE me!” said with all the sarcasm they can muster. These are the ones where we want to go “OKAY!” in the same tone of voice, but we do not….well at least not out loud.
Both of the above have obvious thorns in the apology, but the worst kind of apology to me is the one where the person apologizes but makes comments after intended to hurt the other person. This is the olive branch with thorns that leaves behind a wound that bleeds, just like a rose thorn does. It is sweetened with honey on one side but the thorns are razor-sharp on the other. To me, this is the lowest form of apology.
An example is when someone apologizes for something they did but then adds a comment to it. For example: “I am so sorry I hurt your feelings….. You know dear, you really need to go to the hair dresser. Your hair really needs fixing.” (of course said in a tone of voice that I call nice/nasty). And such comment is said, knowing full well you just had your hair fixed that day. I am using such a simple example, but I am sure you all know what I am talking about. It is the back hand of apologies. And these people usually go for something personal to be nice/nasty about such as looks, how you write, your spelling, your children or anything they know that will hit home.
So, what do you do when someone gives you an olive branch with thorns? There are times I want to hand the thorns back with a few comments of my own, but that is not what the Creator would want us to do. We can just ignore it but I find a little humor helps defuse the situation and also gives the person handing us the olive branch with thorns the message that you know what they are doing. For example, I might counter the remark above about getting the hair done with a comment such as “Yes, I know. I am seriously considering the bald look..” or “I know, isn’t it a mess?” and laugh. Or just simply say “Why, thank you.” with a smile and if you find you can not even do that, act like you did not hear the person.
The one thing I do know is that I would rather receive the olive branch with thorns than give it. Then, I would not be a person deliberately trying to hurt someone. We can not do anything about how others act but we can do something about how we react to things people say or do. The only person we are in charge of is ourselves. And those handing out olive branches with thorns want a reaction. They want to know they jabbed you. Not reacting is the best thing to so. If you have to react, try reacting with humor or kindness for then you are not giving them their fix. Remember my blog about leveling? This is leveling at the highest. People who apologize with thorns are miserable and want to bring you down. Do not let them do it.
© danLrene 2002
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