Call me a politician, call me a PR-spinner, but there are a few things I’ve learned to delicately say over the years.
You don’t tell a woman she looks beautiful (it implies that whatever she did on that particular night, like if she’s just dressed up for a special event, it’s temporary), you tell her she is beautiful. Same goes for a handsome gentleman friend.
If you’re not sure if you’ve met someone before, you tell them it’s great to see them (not meet them, not see them again).
If you apologize, apologize, don’t apologize that someone feels a certain way. They’re allowed to feel their feelings. Apologize that you made them feel that way, apologize for your actions or words or whatever the case may be.
Even though “I’m sorry,” sounds like an apology, when it’s followed with “you feel that way,” it’s more like a slap in the face.
Backing up, my family is not confrontational. We don’t talk about things, we wait for them to disappear. My dad gets away with the worst behavior simply because the women in my family allow it. This issue was important enough to me that I couldn’t sit on it. He needed to be called on his shit, so I went to dinner at their house on Tuesday with the last of my family that is still in town from the wedding (and I waited until after they went back to their hotel).
I had my whole spiel, I felt strong, but when the time came, my heart was racing and half a sentence in, I was crying, but I was getting the words out and the short spiel turned into everything else I wanted to tell him about how hurt I was.
His reaction was not surprise or anger or regret or anything really. With no emotion, he apologized that I felt that way.
I didn’t tell him he won, I just said what I needed to say and then went outside to talk to my mom a bit before I left. She kept trying to figure out how she could fix it. She took on a bit of blame because she knows she’s let him get away with his misbehavior for too long. I’ve been telling her it’s not her charge to fix it ever since.
The next morning (Wednesday now), I got an email from my dad with a more legitimate apology, another lame excuse and a request that if there is anything he can do to let him know.
Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s my responsibility to teach a 61-year-old man how to behave when he’s wronged somebody. He supposedly raised me and I learned it, but now I need to tell him? It wouldn’t mean anything if it was prompted and as more and more days go by, it will mean less and less if he actually gets around to it.
Emotionally-fueled, word vomit posts kind of bug me and I usually click away, but I needed to get it out so thank you if you’re still around. And if you are, let me know what you would do please! How does your family handle conflict? Are there things you’ve learned to spin when you say them?