When You Just Want an Apology!
When you hear yourself say, "I just want an apology!" you have stepped into the field of right and wrong where two hearts shall never meet. Usually the thought behind wanting an apology is "She was wrong!" You are hoping that if the one who hurt you admits s/he was wrong and you were right, that yours needs will be met. Those needs might include empathy, respect, safety, mutual responsibility, and consideration.
Of course, if you harangue someone for an apology and finally get it, it's unlikely that the other has any real connection to your needs. S/he is just standing there with you in the field of right and wrong in the little spot marked wrong.
So what can you do when you hear yourself say, "I just want an apology!" First, take a breath and turn towards whatever hurt feeling is there. Let yourself feel the heartache. This might take a little time because you will need to come down from the anger first. Coming down from anger might involve some deep slow breaths and disconnecting from your jackal show by naming your judgment thoughts as they come up rather than believing them.
Second identify for yourself what needs weren't met for you by the other's behavior. It's easy to stay in right and wrong thinking here if you say something like "She didn't meet my need for respect!" There is a "should" behind this thought, "She should respect me!" If you are still feeling angry you are likely still locating in these thoughts. Connecting with needs in this situation means feeling the sadness of them not being met and accepting that as well as feeling the sacredness of those needs.
Third, if you can find some space in you for it, it can be very helpful to ask him or her what feelings and needs were alive for them when they said or did that which was hard for you. This isn't so much to provide direct empathy for them as it is about you remembering that this is a person with a heart just like you, trying to meet their needs and not always acting in a way that works. Also, if you can do this first you might save yourself a lot of time and trouble because there is a chance that you misperceived their comment or action and are thus reacting to something that didn't exist in the way you thought.
If you don't have space to check in with them, instead of asking for an apology you can ask if they would be willing to hear how that was for you. Then express your feeling and need (try just one feeling and need at a time) and ask them to say back what they heard. Most people can respond to this much easier then being asked to apologize. Though you may both feel disconnected as you do this step it is an important doorway into beginning a connected dialogue.
However you start, the basic elements to reconnect around a difficult situation are the same:
§ Express your observation of what happened and the feelings and needs it brought up for you. Ask the other person to reflect this back. Repeat this step until your need for being heard is met.
§ Listen to and reflect back the feelings and needs of the other when they behaved in the way they did until they are heard.
§ Request - brainstorm, identify, and commit to new actions either or both of you can take in a future similar situation so that all needs are met.
Take a moment now to reflect on something someone did or said that didn't meet a need for you. Let yourself feel the hurt of this and accept the reality of what happened, take a little time to mourn the needs not met and the situation as it happened. Connect with your longing for how you would like your needs to be met. You could even imagine the event over again only this time creating your ideal of what would happen. Then let yourself reflect on what needs the other person might have been trying to meet with their behavior. What feelings might have been up for him or her? At the end of this process, notice if you have a do-able request for yourself or the other person.
A Vision of Success with a Stuck Argument