But you don’t have to.
You’ve probably been convinced that you should. You spend lots of time and energy apologizing for holding someone accountable because they say, “I didn’t mean too! You act like I wanted to hurt you!” You enter the conversation wanting an apology and leave it apologizing to the person who hurt your feelings in the first place.
Now how does that happen?!
Simple. You’ve been trained to care about other people’s feelings. And whoever did the training didn’t differentiate between empathy (I understand you have feelings too) and agreement (your emotions are so important that I’ll do what you want).
You’ve also gotten shafted on motives because you don’t see the difference between an explanation and an excuse. The ice on the road may explain why my car runs into yours, but it won’t be an excuse for driving too fast in icy conditions. I’ll still have to pay your deductible and my insurance will go up.
Here are the ways understanding these differences helps you.
- Valid explanations of motive and emotion no longer mean an excuse to use/ abuse/ ignore you. Emotions just are. They are not white-out for mistakes made against you and neither are motives. Thank people for their pure motives towards you and then continue to stand up for yourself. Whether or not people love you, they still need to treat you with respect. If they’re not, how do you know it’s love?
- You can empathize and understand feelings because you no longer think it means you must agree.
- You can relax when other people start yelling about their feelings because that doesn’t mean you need to be guilty for holding them accountable. Part of the usual anxiety is thinking about how you need to apologize later. Guess what? If you are calmly stating the facts without sarcasm or degradation, you do not need to apologize.
- Accountability is totally behavior based. If you agree to let someone off the hook because of motives or emotions, you are showing mercy.
- Mercy is for special occasions and unusual circumstances. It cannot be demanded. Controllers think they deserve mercy and you must give it to them. They cry, scream, and call you names when you don’t immediately let them off the hook. You no longer have to let them escape accountability and call it mercy.
Understanding these will help you avoid being manipulated by controlling people, spouses trying to win a fight, co-workers & bosses, basically anybody who is willing to use their own emotions to excuse their behavior. It also will help with the people who believe they cannot be held accountable when, “It was an accident!” Accidents are a sign of poor planning. They will continue to happen as long as you do not hold people accountable for their actions.
Emotions are valid, they just aren’t a valid excuse.
Motives will be judged by God, the rest of us have to go on behaviors.
I will empathize knowing I do not have to agree.
I will be understanding while I hold others accountable and insist on being treated respectfully.
photo by y3rdua flickr stream