Let’s Chat About Apologies
August 2, 2015
I’ve had something on my mind that I wanted to chat with all of you about….apologies. I’m finding that this is getting to be quite a sticking point with me – many people think that simply using the words “I’m sorry” is enough, whether the apology is for something big or small. It is more than just words that make people respond to and appreciate an apology. There needs to be some sense of love, caring, and/or respect as part of an apology. I think apologies need the following key ingredients to be truly heartfelt and effective.
- You MUST put yourself in the other person’s shoes so that you know exactly what you need to apologize for. If you are not sure, then ask. Don’t just use the words without understanding what needs to be apologized for. Including the specifics in the apology you offer makes it more heartfelt to the recipient.
- Be genuine in the feelings that you express during your apology. People can see through false apologies pretty quickly.
- So many people will say “I feel badly” when giving an apology, but that makes it about the person apologizing and not the person who needs to be apologized to. It’s good to let someone know if you feel badly – just make sure you tell them why (from their perspective) in order to keep the apology focused on making amends.
- Do NOT try to justify your own actions and choices when giving an apology – it doesn’t matter at that point why you made the choices you did. At the point of apology, it is about repairing a relationship that you have hurt.
- Look someone in the eye while giving the apology, even if it a small apology to a stranger. Eye contact shows respect and caring to another person.
- Use a clear and strong voice to show that you mean what you say.
- I think it is always helpful to include what you would do differently next time. It indicates that you have learned something from the mistake you have made.
- It is never too late to offer an apology to another person, even if years have passed by. If your actions in a given situation are still bothering you, then it is never to late to make amends.
I know that I have room for growth in the apologies I give, and I am making my own concerted effort to improve how I offer them to others. I’ve also been thinking about a couple of people that I owe apologies to for events that occurred a long time ago. I am starting to believe that apologies can go a long way in healing many of the hurts that exist in those around us. Even if someone is not expecting an apology, it doesn’t hurt a relationship of any type to offer one. If you feel like you may owe someone an apology, then I encourage you to go out there and give it your all!
What do you think is important in an apology? Do you think I’m being too critical of apologies?