“Responding to someone’s upset by talking about your upset is a losing move every time. Be accountable, not defensive.” ~LMB
When the people in your life are upset about something you did, the last thing they want to hear is you justifying, explaining, or defending what you did. What they want to hear is that you understand how your actions impacted them. They want to hear that you’re sorry for your actions and will do your best not to repeat them in the future. Accountability, empathy, and, when appropriate, remorse are necessary to heal from hurts.
Responding to someone’s upset in any of the ways below wears down the foundation of your relationships:
- dismissing (e.g., “It’s not that big of a deal.”)
- defending (e.g., “I wasn’t that rude. The other person was even ruder.”)
- spinning (e.g., “You made me mad. If you did what you said you were going to do, I wouldn’t have gotten so angry.”)
- justifying (e.g., “What do you expect? Yelling is the only way to get people to listen.”)
When someone is in a place of upset, your job is to own your mistake, not explain it away, minimize it, or steal the stage by talking about your hurts. Repair is a crucial part of every great relationship. If you’re unable to be accountable for your mistakes and repair any hurts caused by them, then it is only a matter of time before you burn out your relationship.
Challenge: Learn to master the art of repair. Acknowledge your actions, communicate how those actions may have impacted the other person, and do whatever you can to repair the damage or hurt.