Fast Double Sorry - Effective Apology for Deescalating Conflict

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Learn the best way to apologize to deescalate conflict. Before conflict happens and you lose control, use the fast double sorry method. Avoid the blame game and pointing fingers, which only causes interpersonal conflict. Instead, learn this deescalation technique with effectively apologizing.

Can you recall a recent time where you played the blame game? You know, where something goes awry, and no one wants to take responsibility for the cause? Let the circus ensue!

We all find ourselves in “but-you-started-it" situations. Rarely do we walk away proud of these moments.

And don’t think this fades with age. All age groups are guilty of absolving themselves of blame while looking around them for a culprit.

It doesn’t feel good when the finger is pointed at us. And pointing the finger elsewhere rarely helps matters.

So what are we to do in these situations?

Today we’re going to learn about the “fast-double-sorry" method for putting an end to the blame game and instead resolving conflict gracefully.

Let’s get into it.

We all know that feeling of rising anger. One person accuses the other. The other denies it and points the accusation back at the first person. This is a surefire recipe for a shouting match.

Fortunately, we have the “fast-double-sorry" method to save the day. And when deployed correctly, it acts like its name suggests: fast.

This method was popularized in a book co-authored by organizational psychology Professor Adam Grant and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

It is purpose-built for de-escalating blame game situations, which are notoriously difficult to resolve.

How does it work? Let’s go through it step by step.

Step 1: Begin with an Apology

To begin, both sides need to immediately stop whatever it is they are doing and apologize to each other.

This seems like a strange place to start. After all, aren’t we blaming the other person? Why are we apologizing when it’s they who should be apologizing?

Well, that’s actually the point. 

By apologizing, we instantly change the nature of the engagement from one of accusation to one of reconciliation. It takes the focus off who was responsible for what and shifts it to making amends.

To be very clear, this isn’t an admission of guilt. In most cases, we’ll never agree on who was the wrongdoer. And even if we can prove it empirically, that isn’t going to make anyone feel better.

But one thing we definitely are guilty of is losing our temper. So we can at least apologize for that. And in doing so, we redirect the tone of the conversation in a more productive direction.

Step 2: Forgive Them and Yourself

The second step is to forgive the person and our self. We forgive them for getting angry at us, and we forgive ourselves for losing our cool.

Forgiveness is key because it purges us of our anger. It is impossible to feel anger and forgiveness at the same time. So by expressing forgiveness, we force the anger out of our system and replace it with a much more pleasant feeling.

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So those two steps form the “fast-double-sorry". First apologize, then forgive. Simple, right?

Just remember that both you and the person you are confronting need to be on board with this strategy BEFORE the conflict happens. So it works best with someone you spend a lot of time with, like a partner, family member, or close friend.

You can start by sharing this lesson with them and getting them on the same page. Walk them through the process and make sure you are both committed to trying this out.

This method requires moving quickly, before things escalate. It should be deployed as soon as either of you detects anger or defensiveness. Make it instinctual, like a knee-jerk reaction. At the first hint of the blame-game spinning up, blurt out the apologies and forgive each other.

But don’t stop there!

Once we've purged our anger and indignation through the forgiveness, we are in a prime mental space for problem solving.

What does this problem solving look like?

A great place to start is with some good old-fashioned empathetic listening. Understand what each side is feeling and why they feel that way. Step into their shoes and see things from their perspective.

Then discuss ways to avoid repeating that type of conflict in the future. What can both parties do to reduce the likelihood of such a confrontation? 

While every argument is unique, most stem from a shared behavior or point of friction. If you can identify that common source, you can eliminate a wide range of potential future confrontations before they ever happen.

So give this a shot the next time you feel your blood beginning to boil. Don’t expect to ace it the first time, but with practice, and commitment from both parties, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can turn a wildfire into a cozy campfire.

So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear your own strategies for deescalating conflict. What works for you? How do you put it into action before things get too heated? 

Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments down below.

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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners. 

Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.

Happy Explearning ⚡