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Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts
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Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,454 ratings  ·  379 reviews
Renowned psychologist and bestselling author of The Dance of Anger sheds new light on the two most important words in the English language—I’m sorry—and offers a unique perspective on the challenge of healing broken connections and restoring trust.

Dr. Harriet Lerner has been studying apologies—and why some people won’t give them—for more than two decades. Now she offers co
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Gallery Books
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Elyse  Walters
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Why Won't You Apologized", examines "The Many Faces of 'I'm Sorry".
For two decades Harriet Lerner has been studying apologies. She's learned a few things ---witnessed tremendous powerful rewards from a heartfelt apology-- as well as the damage a bad apology can cause.

The healing power of a 'good' apology is immediately recognizable. Anger and resentment melts away. It feels better to be connected than disconnected....but as Harriet says, "we're all apology-challenged with certain people and i
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
We’ve all witnessed, or more likely experienced firsthand, the power of an apology. A sincere apology can repair damage done, while an insincere, or even absent apology, can cause further hurt that hits us harder than the deed that should be apologized for. Harriet Lerner shows us how to compose an honest and heartfelt apology, receive an apology, and move forward in restoring our relationships. Well worth the read!
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those that want an introduction to the topics of hurt, apology and forgiveness
Recommended to Jaidee by: been a fan of Dr. Lerner for many years
3.5 "an important conversation to begin" stars !!

All of us have been hurt by strangers and loved ones alike. These hurts take up a disproportionate amount of our interior lives and are sometimes the cause of dysfunctional ways of being in the world, in our relationships and with ourselves.

Dr. Lerner begins a very important conversation about the nature of hurt, betrayals, apologies and forgiveness. She bitten off a huge topic and in a pleasant and vaguely helpful way discusses the nature of th
Clif Hostetler
This book explores the power and potential pitfalls of apologies. It offers a guide to the art of crafting an apology that is meaningful and can restore trust. The book also offers insight to situations where the offended person feels they are owed an apology but are not receiving one. And there’s also advice on how to properly receive an apology when it does come.

The author is a psychologist with years of experience to draw from in offering examples of situations where apologies were a factor
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
The most valuable part of this book is Lerner's list of five ways to ruin an apology. Having had apologies ruined for me in just these ways, I thought I might confirm a bit of this.

1. I'm sorry, but...

Doesn't really matter how you end that sentence, it's always going to boil down to, "I'm sorry, but I don't owe you an apology."

2. I'm sorry you feel that way.

"...and here are a few therapists I can recommend to help you with that. Because, you know, the fact that you have feelings is something you
5 stars. Harriet Lerner's latest book is filled with points on apology: the bogus apology, the overlong apology, holding off on the use of BUT and IF which are dealbreakers, and when and how to give and accept an olive branch. Earnest, honest considerate apologies retain connection in relationships, demonstrate respect and maturely express accountability. And most people have a hard time letting go to offer an apology- Lerner covers that and more in her very informative book.

I was hoping to fin
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of Anna Farris’s character in Just Friends where she kept apologizing "I'm sorry I'm not ugly or I'm sorry I'm not poor." This book is a bit dry but useful. ...more
Connie D
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a tough book to made me realize how skimpy and hollow some of my apologies have been and why they didn't elicit the responses that I'd hoped for.

It's a wonderful book -- deep insights, great anecdotes that really help explain how different "apologies" and responses affect us, interesting discussion about the possibility of forgiveness, and so many ways to help understand ourselves and others.

I may have to buy this in the future...and mark it all up to remind me when I forge
Quick review for a quick read. It took me around 4 or so hours to read through this thought-provoking psychological read on the dissection of apologies. Topics that Harriet Lerner approaches in this book include what constitutes an apology (and what doesn't), what the types of apologies are, when and how to give them, why people don't give them, and the reception of apologies on a number of different levels. I also like the fact that this narrative mentions that you don't need to forgive someone ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves 5 solid stars, and I don’t give out 5 stars very often. This book is invaluable to anyone who has friends and/or family in their lives who lack luster in the apology department. It covers both big hurts, such as deep seeded wounds of child abuse, as well as smaller offenses, such as a friend not saying thank you when you pick up the check.

I have people in my life who behave this way and I find it very frustrating. For this reason, I decided to read the book for myself as well
Marina Sofia
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sensible, clear and wise advice, with humour and honesty throughout. Just what I needed to read and think about. Many clear examples and suggested scripts. A balanced approach, without much of the quasi-mystical gobbledy-gook of many self-help books on this topic.
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was kind of a wake-up call for me. Before I read this book, I couldn't even recall how many times in my life that I said "sorry" to the other people that they couldn't accept. I got hurt and frustrated so often thinking that the other party did not have the willingness to fix the problems while I wanted to. I would easily jump to conclusions that the other people were being difficult or they just wanted to prolong the fight. The thing was that I was never aware of how insincere ...more
This is life changing. Harriet Lerner manages to articulate everything that goes so deeply (and to me before I read this book, inexplicably) wrong with relationships - all in a 4 hour book about apologies. I loved this so much that I am going to buy the hard copy as well.
Ashleigh Rose
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Go read this now. It will make you a better person. And then you'll give it to someone else to make them a better person. ...more
Sophy H
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very very informative and useful tool for anyone trying to cope with being overly defensive in their relationship.

Bloody learned behaviour, pssh!
Liz Elsen
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. There were several nuggets that resonated. I listened to the audiobook, but kept stopping what I was doing to make notes, and write down quotes. I’m going to spend some time thinking about this one. “Not everything we break can be fixed” is a big take away.
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first read about this book in the context of so many male politicians' inability to apologize in Rachel Miller's newsletter (which is great in its own right, you should subscribe). Since then, I've actually read this twice. The first time I read it, I read quickly (and while I was going through a divorce) and even at that speed it was helpful and insightful. It changed the way I apologize and how I interact with coworkers. The second time I read it, I read it slowly with a pen and journal near ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A slender volume full of generous insights into good and bad apologies: how to frame a deeply meaningful one; how to identify “weaselly” insincere ones; when to accept, when not to, and how to go about it; how to express hurt and pain; how to hold the conversation that comes after; and what the elusive term “forgiveness” means and doesn’t mean.

As to that last point, it’s a myth that “there’s no peace or healing without forgiveness.” Many paths roll up to the door of being able to let go, and th
Ghaida Moussa
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Super helpful and lots of examples! She mentions other cultures' views on apologies but then re-centres one view and I wish there was a bit more space left for the former. But still, worth reading! ...more
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was recommended to me by a solid source and I'm really glad I read it. Harriet Lerner has a way of putting things. Something important this book reaffirmed for me is we shouldn't wait around for or expect people to apologize. We can move forward with our lives irrespective of their choices and their version of whatever it is we feel they should apologize for. Especially since, from their perspective, they may well have done nothing wrong.

It sucks, to be sure, but it's also liberating and he
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Letting go of anger and hate requires us to give up the hope for a different past, along with the hope of a fantasized future. What we gain is a life more in the present, where we are not mired in prolonged anger and resentment that doesn't serve us”

This book is quite important
Everyone should read it and realize that thoughtful apologies can mend relationships while thoughtless ones worsen them..

I realized that the way people apologize tells a lot about them too..

She also addresses forgiveness
Bailey L.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book after listening to her podcast episode with Brene Brown. It was a little different than I expected — I learned about what makes a good and bad apology for sure. However, there were a lot of examples in the marriage and family categories and a little light on the work examples from my POV. I still grasped the point though. She didn’t say more than what needed to be said for the most part.

I am glad I read it and would recommend this book to anyone who knows they need to forgive s
Megan W
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened-to
This is a helpful book to listen to if you had a weird childhood, are constantly mad and felt wronged in your life. I’ve read many books on forgiveness but this one I actually heard. Helpfully lets you understand how to give and accept an apology along with better understanding what to do with bullshit ones too and how to identify them.
Clinton Hutchings
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, self-help
Great, quick book that covers some complex situations and explores why/how/when to say I'm sorry. 4.5 stars! Worth another listen soon. ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book to all my friends and all my enemies if I could. It’s that good. Empowering and relieving and funny and also practical. I’m about to be a Harriet Lerner superfan.
Andrea McDowell
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This was a great book about how apologies should work, and the many reasons they don't, between mostly functional human beings who usually care about each other, and when (and when not) to forgive someone.

I like to say that a real apology has five parts: 1) the words "I'm sorry" or "I apologize," 2) a description of what offence was committed, 3) an acknowledgement of the damage that offence caused, 4) a promise not to do it again, and 5) some kind of description of how that promise will be kept
Sean Goh
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: relating, pers-dev, psych
Reminiscent of Brene Brown, Lerner has written a guide for those figuring out how to move on after a relationship has been damaged (i.e. all of us). TL;DR: To heal, the hurt party needs to hear an unequivocal validation of the awfulness of the experience, and an affirmation that their feelings and perception make sense.

Plus if you can never bring yourself to forgive someone, that's ok.

Questioning ourselves for being "oversensitive" is a common way that women, in particular, disqualify our leg
Emi Bevacqua
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dr Lerner covers but also goes beyond the standard what-makes-a-good-apology-or-a-bad-apology, explaining the proper response to a good apology is "Thank you for the apology. I appreciate it" and that you do not necessarily have to accept every apology 100%, for example, "If you see the problem as my reaction, and not what you said, I'm afraid I can't accept your apology".

What I most appreciate are her focus on the fact that sometimes there is no apology or even reasons or explanations forthcom
Jason Scott
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook. One of my favourite narrators.

I really enjoyed this book. It deals with both sides of the equation, being the person giving the apology and the person receiving the apology. There's a lot of wisdom on relationships in this book that goes beyond apologies.

One idea that stuck with me was how shame can interfere with our ability to apologize. When we have done something shameful it can be hard to be accountable to it, we keep justifying the shameful action, to weasel out of it. We give
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much wisdom here! I will read this book again. Much of the content has lead me to really challenge my own behaviour in my relationships and has fostered compassion for those in my life who struggle with apologies. The one major flaw of this book was some of the content in the end. Loved her perspective on forgiveness but was a bit frustrated by the lack of practical guidance on how to let go of unproductive anger and bitterness. Dr. Lerner kept encouraging the reader to let go of unp ...more
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Dr. Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology, City University of New York; M.A. Educational Psychology, Columbia University Teachers College), was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the second of two daughters. Her parents, Archie and Rose Goldhor, were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. They were high school graduates who wanted their daughters to "be someone" at a time when ...more

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“Letting go of anger and hate requires us to give up the hope for a different past, along with the hope of a fantasized future. What we gain is a life more in the present, where we are not mired in prolonged anger and resentment that doesn't serve us.” 21 likes
“Questioning ourselves for being "oversensitive" is a common way that women, in particular, disqualify our legitimate anger and hurt.
...The fact that some of us feel more vulnerable than others in a particular context does not mean we are weak or lesser in any way.”
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