“Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.” ~ Unknown
Here are 10 principles that are essential when making a sincere apology:
1) . Don’t Make An Apology Harder Than It Has To Be. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Some people act like they’d rather cut off their arm than apologize. These people usually grew up in homes where no one ever apologized. People who won’t apologize for anything usually view doing so as giving up their sense of control and respect. Holding back an apology has more to do with self-protection rather than control. Apologizing actually builds respect and allows an opportunity for the relationship to grow.
“Saying I’m sorry to someone is hard…but putting your pride down for someone else is the hardest.” ~ Cristina Orante
2) Builds Respect. Relationships are built on respect. Apologizing gives the message that you do have respect for the other person and their feelings that may have been hurt from the wrongdoer. It also demonstrates that you respect yourself because it takes a strong person to admit when they have done or said something wrong.
3) Clears The Air. Acknowledging your mistake leads to personal growth. It strengthens your sense of integrity and will help other people trust you. All people make mistakes. A prideful person won’t apologize and tries to move on like nothing happened. The person who was wronged or hurt is then forced to try and pretend that this infraction isn’t still present. Even if the prideful person acts nicer, the damage still needs repairing. Don’t try to sweep your wrongs under the rug; clean them up to begin with.
4) Your Apology Must Be Sincere. Don’t apologize simply to move on. You must be sincere and mean the words that you say. Otherwise, your apologies will eventually mean nothing.
“I’m sorry you’re angry is not an apology.”~ Lisa Lutz
5) Leave Off The “But”. Stay away from making excuses. Don’t try to divide the responsibility by telling them why some of their words or behaviors are partly to blame. Saying “I’m sorry but…” only dilutes your apology and will keep the hurt and frustration alive.
6) Reduces The Amount Of Tension and Arguing. Unsaid words of apology create an underlying hurt and resentment that must be attended to; otherwise the relationship will diminish. This is true regardless of the type of relationship. It could be parent/child, marital or friendship. This produces a cycle of conflict in which you fight about who is right. In order for relationships to thrive, they must promote peace, harmony and a sense of trust.
“A stiff apology is a second insult.”~ G.K. Chesterton
7) Put Yourself In Their Shoes. Look at the situation from the perspective of the other person. Seek to understand how your words or actions impacted them. Were they hurt? Were they embarrassed? Did you disappoint them? In order to strengthen your relationships with others, you must learn to consider the hurt person’s needs and feelings.
8) Sorry Is Not Always Enough. Saying the words will not always be enough. Sometimes you have to demonstrate a change of heart or a change in behavior. If you missed all but one of your child’s ballgames last year; strive to be at all of them this year, on time and fully engaged.
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”~ Unknown
9) Don’t Cut Any Corners. Don’t try to gloss over what you did. Don’t leave off important aspects of your infraction in a hope that maybe they didn’t catch all of the wrongness of your behavior. A full and sincere apology can change everything for the better. It is best that you fully admit to yourself and the other person, the truth in what was done.
10) Consider The Best Way To Apologize. Does your apology need to be face to face? Would be best be write a letter of apology? The manner in which it is delivered is about as important as the apology itself. Think this through and trust your instincts. A letter is best if you tend to struggle with open expression of your thoughts and feelings. Face to face is usually the best way because the other person can better read your level of sincerity. Don’t put the person on the spot by expecting them to respond then and there. Your apology may go something like “I want to apologize to you for….. I do not expect you to say anything at this time. I just want to express my thoughts and then give you time to think about what I’ve said.
“An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.” ~ Lynn Johnston
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner. Mark has been in the field of helping individuals and couples since 1986. He has a vast amount of experience and he can have a very positive impact on your life and your relationship. If you are looking for individual or marriage counseling, please call his office in Valdosta, Georgia and his staff will help you set up an appointment.
South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center
2704 N. Oak St. Blg B-3
Valdosta, Georgia 31602