Of all words and expressions we may utter, the most soothing and diplomatic of them all would in my opinion be "I am sorry". If they are truthfully spoken and sincerely meant "I'm sorry" expresses humility and a high degree of self awareness.
"I'm sorry" is sometimes what a father, mother, spouse, child or friend needs the most from us. Why? Because they probably don't actually demand that we necessarily change, but more so that we at least - as a beginning - confess our weaknesses and faults. In other words, that we are trying matters more than change, because over time any relationship will "fail". But failing without trying again and again is the real failure.
From my experience with marriage counseling, I fear one of the main reasons couples "begin the process of separation" may be for a lack of these two words: "I'm sorry..."
If we can conquer ourselves by clearly stating what we are sorry about, I feel confident that the likelihood of a successful marriage or friendship quadruples, and maybe even much more than that.
Long Term Development
Yesterday my wife gave me the usual haircut. I love getting that haircut. She does a fantastic job! However, this time, at some point during the conversation, she pointed out to me that I was overly critical of how she was cutting it. I had not been sufficiently self aware and criticized her for how she was cutting my hair. At first, I felt embarrassed and tried to defend my behavior. Obviously, this only made things worse. I had to swallow my pride and admit that I was being childish. And I admit. Swallowing that pride hurt bad!
But, and this is my point, looking back at it now the whole thing was completely insignificant. In fact, today, the day after, now I'm embarrassed that it was so difficult for me to say that I was sorry. I'm thinkin', that's exactly how it is most of the time. We're so caught up in the moment that we lose perspective and the bigger picture.
Conclusion..? The closer another person comes inside our most intimate circle of existence the more vulnerable we become. This vulnerability seems to me is the single most important aspect of personal growth. For while it may be perceived as a major threat to our ego, it mainly is "letting other people in" to truly influence us for good. Then, when we're getting that much needed feedback about any of our flaws it is critical that we put aside our pride and ego and take it in, even though it may seem useless in the moment.
For me... I get energy and renewed motivation every time I'm able to sincerely say I'm sorry. Maybe not in the actual moment, but yes, those few minutes afterwards... they're priceless!
Because --today-- you'll make mistakes again, today is another opportunity to say I'm sorry.