Poor customer service is pervasive now-a-days. Dealing with people in brick and mortar stores is frequently like charging into battle. As I look at all the empty mall stores, can’t help but think the business owner gave poor service which contributed to their downfall. Some companies so rude and abrasive, think they are too big to fail. I think back to an era when one as a customer was treated with courtesy and appreciation. And it was not something the average clerk went to school or college to be trained to do, but they just innately knew from their up-bringing good manners and common courtesy.

If an employee of a business did step out of line and exhibit rudeness, or absence of good service, all one had to do was speak to the manager and the problem was solved with a change in attitude or the employee was fired. Not the case now-a-days. If one encounters a problem, and reports to a supervisor or higher echelon up to the CE0, usually the response is making excuses for the behavior of the employee. And might add, “I’m sorry.” A pervasive attitude of defending the offender.

When someone says, “I’m sorry” reflexively I want to yell what the heck does that have to do with anything? To understand this, I must go back to some of my personal history. Because drugs and alcohol addiction are rampant today, a lot of behavior we encounter can be traced to that in families. Because these addictions are family diseases, and not that of one person who has the addiction.

I grew up with no drinking alcohol in my immediate family, i.e., my mother and father, but my mother was raised by a raging alcoholic father. And as a young woman growing up the one designated to walk to a neighbor to buy a bottle of corn liquor and take care of her father when he was drunk. Therefore she pretty much played the role of an enabling spouseaholic. I had uncles who had drinking problems, and got drunk every Saturday night, and as a child, always thought they were funny and entertaining. And I personally never had a drug nor drinking problem, however for a short period lived with a person who was an alcoholic. There’s a difference in a person who just drinks once in awhile and a person who has an alcoholic mind.

At a point in time I realized I was caught up in some of the crazies of the alcoholic mind-set and decided to go to Alanon, to understand more about alcoholism in general and myself in particular. One of the best decisions I ever made because it is very informative and enlightening. The twelve step program is the same as AA except one thing and that is the non-alcoholic does not have the bottle to put down.

Any good self-help program is based upon these 12 steps, and no one has come up with an improved 12 step program than this one. As I understand it, it was Divinely inspired and came through the recipient in less than 30 minutes.

Im explaining all of this leading up to this notion of saying “I’m sorry” for mistreatment as a cure-all for bad behavior. Nowhere in the 12 step program is there any mention of apology via way of saying “I’m sorry.” What it does say is one must make “amends” to those of mistreatment or wrong doing, wherever possible. There is a huge difference in making amends and just apologizing. Making amends is a requirement of facing consequences for mistreatment and wrong-doing, and acting in a manner to compensate for wrong-doing.

In my opinion this is an area of life we can all identify with and is misunderstood. When anyone apologizes to me for mistreatment, I usually respond by saying, “What does that have to do with anything?” Just an apology is usually taking the easy way out to avoid any consequences.

As the economy and conditions in this country worsen, entering a period of inflation and pre-hyperinflation, nerves will increasingly be on edge and tempers shorter, which is not a condition that reduces rudeness. I see it already happening. In this connection, one is better prepared to cope with a clearer understanding of what is happening and what to expect.

Every day the news is filled with stories about behavioral problems and addictions. And there are two kinds of addictions, one is chemical and one is process. Many who have out-of-control issues in their lives become addicted to trying to control others. Repeat offenders of misbehavior and mistreatment, frequently just say I’m sorry, with no consequences, turn around and do the same thing over again. We are really not doing them any favor by allowing it. To say “I’m sorry” is ok so long as it is followed up with some amends for the behavior, and without amends it’s really just hogwash.

I’m aware I can’t really prove anything to anyone but can sometimes present proof. I can’t stop a two-week-old baby from crying if it decides to. Nor can I change the direction of anyone. But what I can do is confront, if an action adversely impacts on me. And in reality have no particular expertise in anything but two areas. I can ignore or confront, expertly. And I recently ran into a very disturbing problem with a very large company, and my next article will tell my story relative to the problem I encountered, the way I handled it and the company’s response. And this article is just a sort of prologue to the epilogue, leading into that story. Because an understanding of the difference in apology and Amends is essential to understanding the story.




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  1. John says:

    Hi Anne,
    I think there is an alcoholic in every family if you look back far enough. There were in mine and I was brought up in a family where drinking took place, but my Grandmother was teetotal on account of her father who was an alcoholic. I stopped drinking over 5 years ago now after becoming on the verge of an alcoholic.

    I’m eternally thankful that I found the courage to stop drinking and will happily spend the rest of my life making amends. I feel it is the least I can do for the freedom I now have.


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