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  1. #21
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I think this makes the most sense to me so far.

    So, for the people who think "I'm so sorry" is an inappropriate thing to say...what should I say? I could say "how do you feel about that?" but that a) makes me sound like a therapist, b) invites the response "how the hell do you think I feel about it?!?!"
    My boyfriend almost always responds with the 'It's not your fault' on the occasion that I do say I'm sorry. So, I've learned...

    I still say it sometimes, because, well, I'm not going to stop saying it altogether and sometimes it spontaneously just comes out of my mouth (and also... he says it too! So there! haha)

    But, the bulk of the time with him, or even with friends, if they're telling me something that's frustrating, or that they're upset about, I'll simply listen. I'll make 'arg' noises, or shake my head, or do the body language/facial expression thing, but that's about it. I think just indicating - even if not in words - that you're listening to them and 'get' what they're expressing, can go a long way.

    And, on the flip side... when I'm on the receiving side of hearing the 'I'm sorry', it's like.... as the receiver, you can't really respond to that. All you can do is acknowledge that you heard them say they're sorry, and shrug your shoulders or something. So, yeah, the words themselves don't 'do' a huge amount.
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  2. #22
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I find that a strange response too... I've never encountered it in situations like death or a marriage ending, but just in smaller day to day situations. Like if my spouse tells me he didn't sleep well or isn't feeling well, I'll say "I'm sorry," and he'll say "It's not your fault." It's not even that he's interpreting it as an apology, though, it's just a weird, sort of conditioned response kind of thing. (Of course in the case of not sleeping well, I guess potentially it could be my fault; I do tend to toss and turn a lot.)

    I think in this sense, "I'm sorry" is shortened from "I'm sorry to hear that." I'm not sure why this should cause confusion between this sense of the phrase and an actual apology-- it seems to me that context should provide the distinction-- but apparently it does confuse some people. So perhaps an alternative would simply be to use the unabridged version, so as to avoid confusion.
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  3. #23
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Tangentially- I try not to say "I'm sorry" about divorces anymore, unless the person telling me clearly didn't want it to happen (which is what your instances sound like). Among my friends who have gotten divorced, most of the turmoil happens before they make the decision to split up, and by then the split-up is actually a relief.
    Yeah, actually, that is a good point. If it's out of the blue/someone I hadn't communicated with for a while, or something, it could be tricky to know how to react. If I knew them and what had led up to it, I'd probably say something more detailed like "I'm sorry about all the difficult stuff you've gone through up to this point, but it sounds like it's for the best, so I hope you will be ok. Do you want to...have dinner and chat? tell me if there is something I can do to help you with organising stuff, moving, etc?" And so on.
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  4. #24
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Not really an "NF" topic, but I wasn't sure where to put this and figured I'd get good responses here.

    When someone tells me that...they have a serious illness; a good friend just died tragically; their marriage is ending; etc, my tendency is to look at them bug-eyed and say "I'M SO SORRY." (And I mean it, too, especially if I'm close to them.)

    What surprises me is that quite often, the person will look at me slightly surprised and say "It's not your fault!" or even "It's fine!". This always surprises me in return. Almost as though I said something inappropriate, or they just totally weren't expecting that. And to me it's completely the natural thing to say.

    Would any of you react like that - or do you think it's an odd reaction? Or do you think it's a cultural thing? I live in England and I can't remember if anyone in Canada or Ireland reacted like that. Then again, living in England I can think of at least English and South African people who have both reacted like that...

    I wonder if they might react like that because I look sincerely moved when I say it? But it's not like I burst into tears! I know though that some people are a bit uncomfortable about any display of emotion, so maybe they feel uncomfortable either that they might be exposing themselves, or that I feel so sorry about the situation. But my reaction if I told someone bad news and they said "I'm sorry" would just be "thank you."

    Thoughts?
    Ohhhh..my ENFJ says the - it's not your fault thing a lot. I can't stand that. I have told him it sounds like something you would say to a stranger (even that is bad), not to your wife. He has started saying thank you more often now but I usually hug him and tell him I'm here to listen if he wants to talk instead of I'm sorry.
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  5. #25
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Well, I can relate to what you've shared SilkRoad.

    When I've been on the receiving end, and someone gives me the big-eye emotional look and generic "I'm so sorry!", I realize it's sincere, and I can appreciate the effort, but I can sometimes feel annoyed because I don't want a misinterpretation of my emotional state reflected back to me. And that emotional expression makes me feel as though I now have to manage your emotional state and downplay things so you don't mirror to me this huge sadness.

    On the giving end, I used to say it a lot however. Over the years, I have adapted the protocol by being specific, and really using the same body language as the person sharing the info. SO, instead of saying "I'm so sorry" with no explanation, I say, "That sounds like you've had a difficult time. I'm sorry (or it's a real challenge) you had to go through that". Basically just adding the WHY to "I'm sorry". It seems to help because the person really knows you're listening to it all and commiserating on the specifics.

    I guess as I think about it more, even though I do try to avoid saying "I'm sorry" it still pops out ... sorry about that (lol)!

    And yeah, sometimes just saying "Wow, there aren't words good enough to say how hard that must be for you - that really sucks" covers a lot of ground.
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  6. #26
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I find it odd how when I (or anyone really) posts threads like this, there are always so many people willing to pile on telling you you're doing it all wrong and that's why you get an odd reaction from a FEW people.
    Did anyone do that? Did you think I did? I thought people were discussing their experiences with it. We all have to come up with things to say.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I find it odd how when I (or anyone really) posts threads like this, there are always so many people willing to pile on telling you you're doing it all wrong and that's why you get an odd reaction from a FEW people.
    Yeah, I don't think that you're doing it wrong. People may be forgetting that "sorry" can mean regret or condolence.

    Then again.. maybe, for some, "it's not your fault" does recognize the condolence and that it means "I'm fine," or "I don't want to burden you by making you feel bad." Surely, people aren't so obtuse to believe that we think that we caused the thing that we say we're sorry about?

    I guess, if I had someone tell me "it's not your fault," I'd take that way.

  8. #28
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post

    When I've been on the receiving end, and someone gives me the big-eye emotional look and generic "I'm so sorry!", I realize it's sincere, and I can appreciate the effort, but I can sometimes feel annoyed because I don't want a misinterpretation of my emotional state reflected back to me. And that emotional expression makes me feel as though I now have to manage your emotional state and downplay things so you don't mirror to me this huge sadness.

    On the giving end, I used to say it a lot however. Over the years, I have adapted the protocol by being specific, and really using the same body language as the person sharing the info. SO, instead of saying "I'm so sorry" with no explanation, I say, "That sounds like you've had a difficult time. I'm sorry (or it's a real challenge) you had to go through that". Basically just adding the WHY to "I'm sorry". It seems to help because the person really knows you're listening to it all and commiserating on the specifics.
    Yeah, I think that's a great point, and depending on the situation I would often phrase it more that way. It's more specific so it leaves less room for them to say "it's not your fault". Then again, I'm pretty sure I've said "I'm sorry you've had to go through that" and someone has responded "it's ok" before, as well

    I think also a lot depends on your relationship with the person and your tone, body language, whether you're in a position to give them a hug and offer assistance, etc...
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  9. #29
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaur View Post
    Did anyone do that? Did you think I did? I thought people were discussing their experiences with it. We all have to come up with things to say.
    Not really. Just me feeling snarky


    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    Yeah, I don't think that you're doing it wrong. People may be forgetting that "sorry" can mean regret or condolence.

    Then again.. maybe, for some, "it's not your fault" does recognize the condolence and that it means "I'm fine," or "I don't want to burden you by making you feel bad." Surely, people aren't so obtuse to believe that we think that we caused the thing that we say we're sorry about?

    I guess, if I had someone tell me "it's not your fault," I'd take that way.
    Yeah, I've wondered if that was just their way of acknowledging it or defusing the moment, or something. Maybe some people are worried I'm going to get super-emotional about it. I think it's the more stoic/less willing to show emotion people who are more likely to do the "it's ok" or "it's not your fault" thing, anyway.
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  10. #30
    Senior Member Turtledove's Avatar
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    When I was in college, I took a personality psychology class. The teacher was explaining a chapter I can't quite remember, but I remember this coming up. He said that people suffering the loss of perhaps a loved one or something of that nature does not need someone to give sympathy by saying your sorry, but instead that it is best to ask the person, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
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