Apologizing Around the World

Apologizing Around the World

Tami Lancut Leibovitz

Apologizing around the world is always a great idea but it’s much easier said than done, or in the words of Elton John: “There’s a lot of words that hard to say, but sorry is the hardest of them all.”

The Jewish culture provides us an annual opportunity, served on a silver plate, a chance to redeem ourselves and apologize to someone we love that we hurt this year, a chance to reach out and say sorry for our wrong doings.

Apologizing isn’t easy and there’s are tens of ways to do it, some are better than others. The ideal way is to apologize face to face, the most respectable way – when someone can see your body language, your smile, then he feels your full regret and feel your sincerity.

In the digital age, many people choose to apologize through text, WhatsApp message or social media. It’s great to add that to a personal apology, but nothing can replace the sound of voice and the look in your eye. If you can’t see the person in person, call him. If it’s not possible, only than you should reach out via a text note or message. Keep the message honest and authentic.

Thinking about the upcoming Yom Kippur, I wanted to share with you the ways and methods people apologize to one another around the world and in different cultures:

In Japan, apologizing with words only doesn’t mean a thing. A bow down, deep forward, is the only way to transfer your message. There’s a whole specific ritual called Sumiasen that differentiate between apologizing to family, friends, or colleagues.

In the Arab culture, the “Sulcha”, a ceremony that symbolizes forgiving and apology, has different variations. For example: In Tunisia, two representatives, of the insulting to the insulated parties would meet and bring plates of sweet gestures and desserts in order to promote a discussion between the two.

In the Arab Society in Israel, the ceremony is taken very seriously with exact details. Again, outside parties are involved in the ceremony. It starts in the morning, when the apologizing parties are heading towards the home of the person they apologizing to. Then, the parties tie a white napkin on a long wood branch and the two tie a knot in it, to symbolize reconciling and peace. Then, a financial compensation is traded, the apologizing person hands it to the person he’s apologizing to. Then, comes the best part, everyone joins together, shake hands and drink coffee together, with friends, neighbors, and family.

Sulcha is so critical that even he judicial system in Israel once declared sufficient evidence that a person had good intentions and intent for problem solving.

In Canada, just saying “Sorry” is not enough because the Canadians are so polite, they say sorry to each other all the time! To show a deeper intent, use the term “I ask your PARDON” to fully show your deep apology.

In China, there’s over 10 ways to apologize and say sorry to different people or in different situations. If you’re an outsider, make sure you don’t embarrass yourself, apologizing to a friend will not be the same as apologizing to a colleague etc. and apologizing for a mistake is not the same apology of being late!

While you get ready for Yom Kippur you have more questions? Any other etiquette and culture answers that can help with? Feel free to visit my website – WWW.TLL.CO.IL to ask me any etiquette question – would love to hear from you!