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Home » Why Is It So Hard To Apologize? -Michael Ballard (Transcript)

Why Is It So Hard To Apologize? -Michael Ballard (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of psychologist Michael Ballard’s talk titled “Why Is It So Hard To Apologize?” at TEDxBreckenridge conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Difficulty of Apologizing

I’ve heard it said that the three hardest things in the world to say are “I’m sorry,” “I need help,” and “Worcestershire sauce.” In 1302, the city of Florence, Italy banned the famous poet Dante for ideas that were considered blasphemous at the time. He was later burned at the stake. But the city of Florence felt bad and publicly apologized in 2016, over 700 years later.

I think the truth is, like the city of Florence, most of us are terrible at apologizing. As a psychologist, I meet with people every day who struggle to say the words “I’m sorry.” And it’s not just me. Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows how hard it can be to say those two little words.

It’s so easy for us to get stubborn, prideful, and defensive, and so hard for us to just admit that we were wrong. Family members refuse to talk to each other for years because neither side wants to be the first to give in. So why is it so hard for us to apologize?

Three Reasons We Struggle to Apologize

After studying this topic thoroughly, I’ve discovered that there are three major reasons why we stink at apologizing. So if you know someone who refuses to apologize, or if that someone is you, then listen up. The first reason we struggle to apologize is we don’t want to face the consequences of our actions. Whether we’re 7 or 37, the bottom line is the same.

We don’t want to get in trouble. So we make excuses, blame others, or just flat out lie. Over time, this can lead to all sorts of sneaky, dishonest, and manipulative behaviors.

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