I was looking up a few sites to put this article together and I was simply amazed at how many bad suggestions there are and different ideas about delivering a good apology. Many of them hint at power trips, and relationship building, and needing to consider if you are sorry or not, and yadda yadda. A lot of considerations listed for something that really should be very simple. If you have a regret about something you did, then an apology is due. It’s as simple as that!
How Do You Know If You Should Apologize?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve waited ‘too long’ to apologize (there is no such think), or if you think you have a reason to defend yourself or even if anyone else made the situation worse; if you did something you regret, then you should deliver an apology. Not giving an apology doesn’t dissolve the fact of what you did. It doesn’t separate you from your actions either. If you affected someone, they already know it and that’s all that matters, not if you intended to hurt them or not. The fact is, you did, so apologize.
Delivering the Apology
An apology should be simple, and from the heart. You should never give rationales, reasons or excuses about why you did something. Don’t include the feelings or perceptions of the other person in your apology. Don’t use ‘if’ and ‘you’ when delivering the apology. This deflects the apology right back to the person’s perception or feelings instead of stating any regret about what has already happened. It means nothing. An example of this might be, “I’m sorry if you feel I was being too hard on you…”. This doesn’t accept any responsibility for what happened and makes it sound like it is the receiving person’s problem and this will generally make the situation worse with no acceptance from that person.
Instead, just state that you are sorry, explain that you regret what you did and you know that it was your fault. Accept the responsibility and the apology will have some meaning. You can elaborate on what you will do to avoid this in the future or simply leave it short and sweet. Stay serious, have the conversation face to face (no emails, notes, or other written apologies) or at least on the phone and be sincere!
Apologies don’t need to be as hard as most people make them. They don’t expose a weakness like most people believe, instead they show that you are understanding and focused on the relationship with that person and courageous enough to admit when you’ve made a mistake. I’m sure there are a few actions you regret, so take some time and deliver a heartfelt meaningful apology. You’ll feel great about it (not to mention how great the receiver will feel) and you’ll strengthen those relationships. It doesn’t matter if they accept the apology or not, and even if you know they will still hold a grudge, don’t let that hold you back.
Apology Referenced from Dictionary.com
noun. plural. a·pol·o·gies
An acknowledgment expressing regret or asking pardon for a fault or offense
Prev: Book Review: Crucial Conversations
Next: Book Review: The Irresistible Revolution: Living As an Ordinary Radical