Saving Face without Ever Saying “Sorry”
by Ann Thrope
Did sleeping with your boss upset your boyfriend? Did lying about your qualifications land you in a position you can’t handle? Are you sick of the feeling you get when you see that guy you said you would call but never did? Apologies are a well known sign of weakness and insecurity. At times when you want to move on and let go of any hard feelings, it might actually seem like a good idea to apologize. However, apologies can feel uncomfortable, and sometimes its just better to block it all out and pretend nothing ever happened. In case you don’t feel like saying that you are sorry, its easy to sidestep even the most obligatory apology.
If you don’t want to apologize, you will have a few considerations you need to make before you move further. Will the person you refuse to apologize to continue to tolerate your presence? Will they continue to allow you to dominate them and treat them like garbage? Will you feel awkward being together in the same place? Can you be together in the same place? If not, who will your friends choose, and how will you make sure that it’s you?
If you find that your lack of apology does not affect your relationship with the other person, just forget about it. If you can keep your distance, and you aren’t worried about continuing to talk to them, who cares? There are a few things you can to do sever any feelings you might have about the person. If you begin to question what you’ve done, reassure yourself that you have the upper hand. Replay the situation you might have apologized for over and over in your head, and at the end of it, become excited and yell, “I was totally right!” If that won’t work, you’ll need to be reassured by the people around you. Try telling your whole story to your friends, family members, coworkers, and even total strangers who know nothing about it. Practice your story, and learn which parts you can leave out to receive the strongest reassurance from whoever it is you’re telling it to. Your goal is to boost your self confidence without ever admitting wrongdoing or taking any steps which might lead you slowly into regret, or even worse, an apology.
When it comes to your story, for maximum effect you’re going to need to learn how to tell it right. Exaggerate the parts that show you the best light, and as for the ones that don’t, understate them or leave them out altogether. Leave out crucial details. If you’re mad at your roommate for having a party, make sure to leave out that you said it was OK. Anyone who you tell the story to will surely understand your outrage when they learn that you were being ignored and disrespected. These words of understanding and condolence from those who know the best parts of your story will reinforce your confidence that you were in the right. Your confidence is like a balloon, you need to have enough hot air blown into it to make it inflate as much as it can, tie it off, but make sure it never pops.
Sometimes it isn’t enough just to tell your side of the story. If you don’t paint your subject in as poor a light as possible, there is a chance you’re story will seem too one-sided and people may come to suspect you are exaggerating. Judge whoever it is you are trying to slander based on their social class, looks, job, friends, tone of voice, friends, and choice of dress. Share these judgments with those around you to make your job easy. Your goal is to own the perception of the person, make it so everyone thinks so little of him or her that they can do nothing right. Be ruthless, and if they cry or apologize themselves, joke about how weak they are. You don’t want them to garner any sympathy from people who don’t quite believe you, or worse yet, paint you as cruel.
Ultimately if you never want to apologize to someone you have to either put yourself above them, which can be fun, or forget them altogether. Try to convince yourself you are more mature, more intelligent, more fun to be around, or just plain better. Once you’ve put yourself above your enemy, you have an effective means of shutting out anything they do that might prove the caricature you have created of them wrong. You must believe, with all of your heart, that you are right and they are wrong, you are better, they are worse, or else you might fall into a time of weakness and apologize or, heaven forbid, desire to change.