How Good Are Your Apologies?

We all mess up! That’s the nature of being human. We all say and do things that we wish we hadn’t. That part is a given. The thing that will set you apart as a person who values peace is when and how you apologize for your wrong-doings. A heart-felt, authentic apology will go a long way to resolve conflict. Not all apologies are created equal and if you’ve really hurt someone it’s important that yours hits the mark. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The medium is the message. If you’re apologizing after a big rift make sure you take the time to do it face-to-face, or if that isn’t realistic then at least by phone. Using texting only shows that it’s not important enough to you to take more than a few seconds out of your day.
  • Your timing sends a message too. Waiting a long time to apologize can send the message that you don’t care about the other person and their feelings. When you know you’ve messed up strive to make it right as soon as you can.
  • Acknowledge the ways that you’ve hurt the other person. This is the best way to validate the other person’s hurt feelings while showing them that you understand the ways that you were wrong. “I’m sorry if you feel that way” is unhelpful and puts the blame back on the person who’s hurt. Try something more like, “I’m sorry I hurt you by not showing up to your party” or “I’m sorry that I didn’t come to your party, that was rude and I can see why you’d be so hurt.”
  • Explain some ways that you’d like to try to do better in the future. This shows that you’re doing more than just trying to smooth things over, but are committed to building a more positive relationship and bettering yourself.
  • Avoid, “I’m sorry, but…” and putting limits on your apology. You might have other things you need to discuss with the person, but let your apology stand for itself before moving to them. Say an unequivocal “I’m sorry” without passing the blame or making it about you.

If you want to mend a relationship and move past hurt you might need to consider offering an apology, or changing the ways that you apologize. You may think you’re offering your amends but you’re doing it in a way that’s falling flat with the other party. See if some of these suggestions can help move things forward for you.


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