Everyone does something they must apologize for at some point in their life. When that happens, the way you say you’re sorry can have an impact on how sincere you sound and whether or not the person you have wronged accepts your apology.
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On the other hand, the wrong kind of apology can really take a toll on a relationship and can even change the way a person sees you. There are several things you can do to make sure your apology is done properly so that you both can move past what happened. Use the following techniques and you’ll be a pro at saying you’re sorry in no time at all.
1. Skip The Excuses
For an apology to be truly sincere, you must deliver it without any excuses. Don’t waste time trying to explain why you acted the way you did or said what you did. It’s a natural instinct to want to avoid embarrassment and fear by trying to explain why you did what you did.
However, this can take away from the sincerity of the apology and take the attention away from the mistake you made. That will leave the other person feeling as if you aren’t truly sorry. So, simply say the words, “I’m sorry” and leave things there.
2. Express Remorse
No one is going to believe that you’re really sorry if you don’t look and sound like it. Set aside a few minutes to talk to the person you wronged personally so that you can convey your remorse for your words or actions. Be honest and let the other person know that you feel badly for what happened and will try harder next time so that it doesn’t happen again.
3. Take Responsibility
No apology is a good one if you don’t take responsibility for what you did and admit that the issue is your fault. Make sure that you empathize with the person you wronged so that they know you understand how you made them feel when you spoke or acted. All it takes in this instance is being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider how you would feel if the roles had been reversed.
4. Use The Right Words
Whatever you’re apologizing for, it probably has nothing to do with what the other person did and more to do with yourself. That means your words should be used to convey that you are at fault and that what happened is because of what you said or did. Try to avoid blaming the other person for what you’ve done or your apology will no longer be sincere and acceptable. This simple step can bring you closer to the person you wronged and help you resolve the issue.
5. Make Amends
Now that you’ve actually spoken the words conveying your remorse and letting the other person know you’re sorry, it’s time to make amends. That means you need to let the other person know that you are willing to do what it takes to make it up to the other party. Make sure that what you do truly makes amends and isn’t just an empty promise or words to end the conversation so that you can get out of an uncomfortable situation.
6. Don’t Ask For Forgiveness
You’ve probably heard that when you apologize to someone, you should ask them to forgive you. Some disagree with that because the other person might not be ready to forgive yet. For some wrongdoings, the wronged party may need some time to get past what happened and come to terms with what you did. That might not happen instantly just because you’ve apologized to that person. You’ll need to be patient and accept forgiveness when the other person is ready to give it to you rather than when you expect it.
7. Promise That It Won’t Happen Again
When you do this, it’s imperative to be sure that you are doing so with a sincere heart and aren’t making an empty promise. However, it’s important to let the person you’ve wronged know that you won’t do the same action or speak the same words again in the future. You’ll have to make a concerted effort to take action to make sure that you don’t do the same thing again. This will prove to the other person that you are truly sorry and intend to prevent the same thing from ever happening again.
8. Consider The Legalities
It might seem silly, but in some parts of the world, saying you’re sorry is akin to an admission of guilt, which can leave you open to legal issues. Make sure you have a clear picture of what might happen if this is the case where you live. You probably don’t have anything to worry about if your mistake was a small one and the other person isn’t making a big deal out of the issue.
What If You Don’t Apologize?
Whether you wronged your co-worker, your spouse or someone else, there are problems that can occur in your relationship if you choose not to apologize and ignore the issue. You can cause damage to your relationship that will be difficult to repair as time goes on.
Failing to apologize at work can interfere with your working reputation and leave you a less viable choice for promotions and raises. People don’t want to foster a close relationship with a person who isn’t willing to admit that they made a mistake and take action to fix the problem.
Apologizing is a hard thing to do, but it is something everyone has to do at one point or another in their life. It’s not something that will ever get easier, and you may have to practice to get it right. Consider asking a close friend or family member to help you practice your apology so that when you deliver it, you use the right words and approach to convey a sincere apology to the person you wronged.
Once you see the value of a good apology, you will understand why it’s so important to do so properly. You may be feeling guilty for the words or actions you used, and making an apology can give you some measure of relief, which means that saying you’re sorry is good for you and the person you wronged.
Not only that, but you can preserve a relationship by letting the other person know that you are willing to accept responsibility for doing something you shouldn’t have, which can strengthen your partnership and bring you closer together. Finally, apologizing can restore your dignity and paint you as a caring person who treats others the way they deserve to be treated.
If you have trouble admitting a mistake and making an apology, a counselor may be able to help you figure out why and form a strategy for doing better in the future.