This post is part of a new project that I’m working on. Visit Jess Alston’s website to learn more about the Dig Deep Podcast.
Once, I dumped a glass of water on my best friend. A projecting it forward rapidly, if you will, like the sort of action that makes a great slo-mo replay. It’s sort of my go-to story when someone asks me about our relationship over the years or how I handle conflict. The best part is that I have no idea what that fight was even about. (Although, she might know. She’s forever my memory, reminding me of where we went and who we were back in our Britney Spears days.)
I have two defaults: either brewing anger inside of me to the point of boiling over (ask my mom about me shattering a car windshield), or the classic shutting down and withdrawing method. I’m especially good at that one. Shut the door, find the journal, and I’m set for hours (or days).
So this week at Dig Deep when we talked about conflict and confrontation and apologizing… well, let’s just say, I needed it. The question is this: how do we stop the cycle of blaming and pointing fingers? How do we learn to give a good apology?
Jess gave a method from Andy Stanley where you draw a circle to create a pie chart. Draw whatever percentage is the other person’s fault, and draw which percentage is your fault. (For me, this changes based on the hour and how much caffeine I’ve consumed that day.)
Then, Jess walked us through the acronym “SWAT” to guide our apologies. S, be specific. W, without excuse. A, ask for forgiveness. And T, truth.
I’m more familiar with this alternative method: Give a short, blanket “Sorry” followed by a little, “BUT you really haven’t been treating me well lately.” I keep the bulleted list running in my head of all the ways that you’ve been out to get me lately, or abandoned me, or didn’t care about me. (Yes, mememe.) And then top it off with a little sarcasm zinger and let’s call it a day.
Right. Clearly, I needed this message.
A life of living at peace with everyone doesn’t involve closing the door and withdrawing. It does involve facing our fears and engaging in hard conversations. Not letting those frustrations boil inside of us, and definitely not dumping the glass of water.
Here’s a few more things to wrestle with after this week’s Dig Deep:
- Childlike reasoning. Jess shared about talking to her kids after they get into an argument. Kids are quick to play the blame game, highlighting that he kicked because she pinched, and she pinched because he pulled her hair, etc. etc. etc. Adults know how to play this game well, too. We want to one-up each other and keep building on our blame so that we’re left as the one on top, waiting on our throne for the delivery of that beautiful apology we deserve.
- SWAT challenges. Everyone has their own struggles with which aspect of a SWAT apology need some work. Some come easier than others. For me, I struggle even getting the whole thing going, wanting to avoid the S of articulating specifically what I’ve done that requires asking someone for forgiveness.
- Awkwardly learning. It can all feel a little scripted and clunky. It even requires tough conversations with your spouse or significant other about the importance of learning these methods together. But it’s worth the awkward fumbling.
What relationship in your life could use a little pie chart action? Where could you send in the SWAT team to deliver that apology to someone important in your life?
Take a deep breath. Drink some water, don’t dump it.