What a CATastrophe!

What a CATastrophe!

The other evening my wife Roselyn and I went out for a bike ride. We left the door to the garage open and upon returning I made sure that I closed it so that it didn’t bang with the wind in the middle of the night.

Around lunch time the next day I asked Roselyn if she’d seen Pepper, our cat. She’s a wonderful cat that often curls into a ball in some hideaway in the house so it’s not unusual if we haven’t seen her for a while. She always comes when we call her name as she hopes to get some tasty morsel or two from us…..strangely this time when we called her name there was no sign of her.

After hunting around it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I’d inadvertently locked Pepper in the garage. Sure enough, after opening the garage door there was our cat staring with accusing eyes back at me. I apologised to her with a can of tuna and all was good.

So let’s unpack this story a little as there’s so much to learn from it.

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When I closed the door of the garage from my perspective I had done nothing wrong. In fact, I was doing right by making sure that it didn’t bang all night. From Pepper’s point of view I was the most horrible person in the world! How dare I deliberately lock her in the garage!

This is often exactly the same when two people have a disagreement. It’s all about perspective. Like Pepper and I, it’s often the case that neither party was trying to do something deliberately to antagonise the other. Stuff just happens.

I could have tried to prove to Pepper that I was right and the cat was wrong for going into the garage in the first place. Pepper could have hissed at me that I should have checked the garage before closing the door. Both of us would have been right…..and also wrong.

The key here is the apology (ie. the tuna). An apology is all about recognising that you’ve hurt another person’s feelings, it’s not about whether you are right and they are wrong. In fact, it really doesn’t matter if you’re right or not.
My father used to tell me that you can win an argument and lose a friend or say sorry and keep a friend. It’s your call what you want to do.

This past week I wrote an apology and it did not matter whether I was right and the other person was wrong….what mattered was “I’d locked them in the garage” and they were hurting. A genuine apology was needed to help rebuild the bridges in the relationship that I’d inadvertently broken.

When I read some of the comments on the article it was clear that many of them missed the whole point of the apology as people rushed to take sides. It wasn’t about rights and wrongs at all…..and hence, for the first time ever I closed the comments on an article.

One of the comments would bear mentioning, as it really struck me…..it was suggested that I looked weak by apologising. You know what, I personally believe that someone who is willing to apologise is actually strong. It also means that when they mess up or hurt your feelings etc. they are willing to place the relationship before their pride. This is not to say that I’m some great “hero” but it’s a good life lesson to ponder. It’s also one of the major reasons why I’m still married after 27 years.

Let’s take this cat and garage story one bit further. Let’s imagine that Roselyn had asked me whether I’d locked the cat in the garage. I would have said, “No, of course not.” Later after the cat was found in the garage Roselyn could have said, “You’re a liar!”

No, I wasn’t a liar. From my perspective I didn’t lock the cat away. Luckily my wife is very understanding and she didn’t say these things but how often have we leapt to conclusions about someone’s actions and disparaged their character? It’s easy to do and it’s very destructive. My advice is to be very careful before you judge another person’s actions.

Over the years, it’s been my observation that many arguments are the result of different perceptions of the same events. In my case, the can of tuna went a long way to mending my relationship with Pepper and last night she curled up on the couch next to me. :-)

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Comments

Guest - Kassey on 15 November 2014

Saying sorry is one of the hardest things in life. For this reason you have my vote.

Saying sorry is one of the hardest things in life. For this reason you have my vote.
mgilmour on 16 November 2014

Thank you Kassey!

Thank you Kassey!
Guest - Shane Redmond on 15 November 2014
Augmented

Saying sorry is not weak at all but a liar who sticks to a lie shows there weakness in there own character and it is he who is the weak one as the truth will set you free except for Jillian assange we were all told as kids tell the truth and you won't get into trouble we'll these people saying this didn't take jullian assange truth telling to well

Saying sorry is not weak at all but a liar who sticks to a lie shows there weakness in there own character and it is he who is the weak one as the truth will set you free except for Jillian assange we were all told as kids tell the truth and you won't get into trouble we'll these people saying this didn't take jullian assange truth telling to well
whizzbang on 15 November 2014
You're Strong.. Michael..

I'm a regular visitor to your blog.. but never commented on anything..
But This time I'm commenting...
I would like to say that Saying Sorry is not Weakness at all it's quite the contrary.. it's your Strength and High moral..
which you have it .. I salute you for that.. Keep up Michale..

I'm a regular visitor to your blog.. but never commented on anything.. But This time I'm commenting... I would like to say that Saying Sorry is not Weakness at all it's quite the contrary.. it's your Strength and High moral.. which you have it .. I salute you for that.. Keep up Michale..
mgilmour on 16 November 2014
RE:You're Strong.. Michael..

Kan, it's great to see you here and comment on this article. It means a lot.

Kan, it's great to see you here and comment on this article. It means a lot.
Guest - Domenclature.com on 15 November 2014
A Steak would've been nice

http://www.stringiq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/domenclaturebutton.png

So, you offer tuna to 'Pepper', your cat, and a lousy apology to 'Cougar', the forum jaguar?

A steak would'e been nice!

Seriously, I don't have enough information to comment on prior topic, the fight, so I abstain from that. However, I like the writing style of this piece, and the universal lesson therein.

[img]http://www.stringiq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/domenclaturebutton.png[/img] So, you offer tuna to 'Pepper', your cat, and a lousy apology to 'Cougar', the forum jaguar? A steak would'e been nice! Seriously, I don't have enough information to comment on prior topic, the fight, so I abstain from that. However, I like the writing style of this piece, and the universal lesson therein.
Guest - Aaron Strong on 16 November 2014
Best to you Michael.

You are the company you keep.

You are the company you keep.
mgilmour on 16 November 2014
RE:Best to you Michael.

My grade 5/6 teacher used to say, birds of a feather flock together.....

My grade 5/6 teacher used to say, birds of a feather flock together.....
mdafni on 16 November 2014

Too often our need to be right, or appear to be right takes precedence over everything else. Just like saying thank you, an apology can have a huge impact. Great post Michael. This point reaches far.

Too often our need to be right, or appear to be right takes precedence over everything else. Just like saying thank you, an apology can have a huge impact. Great post Michael. This point reaches far.
mgilmour on 16 November 2014

Melissa, you bring up another important point.....saying thank you. When I think about it, there is the almost lost art of being polite that is actually really special.

Melissa, you bring up another important point.....saying thank you. When I think about it, there is the almost lost art of being polite that is actually really special.
Rawgi on 15 November 2016
More great stuff

I will agree with the posters here that it is much stronger to offer the apology. Having the mindset that the relationship is more important than the need to be right, is a far greater way to go about life and will get you further. Being able to see that there may be differing views of a situation, can help avoid complications in many areas of our lives. Your Musings always get me thinking.

I will agree with the posters here that it is much stronger to offer the apology. Having the mindset that the relationship is more important than the need to be right, is a far greater way to go about life and will get you further. Being able to see that there may be differing views of a situation, can help avoid complications in many areas of our lives. Your Musings always get me thinking.
mgilmour on 15 November 2016

Thank you for your kind comment about Musings.....I must admit that writing them is one of the pleasures that I have each week.

Thank you for your kind comment about Musings.....I must admit that writing them is one of the pleasures that I have each week.
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