The ART of apologizing!
Find yourself wonderng why others don't understand you or care about you?
Are you a professional Victim?
Do you wonder why others are "so sensitive?"
Often time we go through our day being unaware of how we impact the lives of others. It is a given we will step on each other accidently without meaning to (if you mean to then there is another posting necessary for mean behaviors). However how we respond to our actions and take responsibility says alot about who we are and what our character is like.
In any relationship heartfelt apologies can go a long way to bringing people together. Here is an article on developing the art of apologies.
How to Apologize
We all know what an apology is--an expression of remorse or guilt over having said or done something that is acknowledged to be hurtful or damaging, and a request for forgiveness. But we also know it can be really hard to swallow our pride and say "I'm sorry." If you have a difficult time making amends for mistakes or repairing the effects of angry words, here's how to keep your dignity while being humble, and invite forgiveness with grace.
- Realize that what you did was not a good choice and probably hurt this person.
- Realize that there is no excuse. Do not try to think of or offer one. An apology with an excuse is not an apology. Take full responsibility for what you did.
- Decide when to apologize. Sometimes immediately after your mistake is best, sometimes not. The sting of a harsh word can be cooled right away with a quick apology, but other offenses might need the other person to cool down before they are willing to even listen to your next sentence. However, the sooner you apologize for your mistake, the more likely it will be viewed as an error in judgment and not a character flaw. "I'm sorry...I shouldn't have said that."
- Write your apology down. Construct a letter to the person you're apologizing to, rehearsing what you will say in person. If you don't feel comfortable with writing, then use a voice recorder. Not only will this help you remember what to say when you're face to face with them, but you can also bring the copy with you and hand it to them if you find the apology quite difficult to express. But never forget that a direct and honest apology is best. Do it face to face, if possible. A phoned, emailed or recorded apology may show a lack of sincerity and effort.
- Begin the apology by naming the offense and the feelings it may have caused. Be specific about the incident so that they know exactly what you're apologizing for. Make it a point to avoid using the word "but". ("I am sorry, but..." means "I am not sorry.") Also, do not say "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry if you were offended." Be sorry for what you did! "I'm sorry you feel that way" makes it seem like you are blaming the other person, and is not a real apology. Validate their feelings or discomfort by acknowledging your transgression's (potential) effects, while taking responsiblity: "Boss, I'm sorry I'm late again, I know my shift started 10 minutes ago. I hope this doesn't complicate your day." "Dear, I'm sorry I forgot your birthday - there's no excuse. I hope you don't feel neglected, please let me set this right." "This is an explanation, not an excuse. There is no excuse."
- Make amends. Think about what caused you to make the offense. Is it because you're a little too laid back about being on time, or remembering important dates? Is it because you tend to react instantly to certain comments, without pausing to consider an alternative point of view? Is it because you are unhappy with your life, and you unknowingly take it out on others? Find the underlying problem, describe it to the person (as an explanation, not an excuse), and tell them what you intend to do to rectify that problem so that you can avoid this mistake in the future:"I snapped at you because I've been so stressed out with work lately, and it's selfish of me to take it out on you. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to cut down my hours to X per week. I really think it'll help me unwind, and help us spend more quality time together." "I've been distant and cold because I get paranoid that you're going to walk out on me because I don't have a job. But that's a terrible thing to do. Look, here's a list of things I'm going to do to find a job ASAP..."
- Express your appreciation for the role that they play in your life, emphasizing that you do not want to jeopardize or damage the relationship. This is the time to briefly recount what has created and sustained the bond over time and tell loved ones that they are indeed loved. Describe what your life would be missing without their trust and their company.
- Ask if they will give you another chance to make up for what you did wrong. Tell them you'd love to show them that you've learned from your mistake, and that you will take action to change and grow as a result, if they will let you. Make a clear request for forgiveness and wait for their answer. This gives the injured party the well deserved "power" in determining the outcome of the situation.
- Be understanding. If an apology is not accepted, thank them for hearing you out and leave the door open if they wish to reconcile later. "I understand you're still upset about it, but thanks for giving me the chance to apologize. If you ever change your mind, please give me a call."
- If you are lucky enough for your apology to be accepted, avoid the temptation to throw in a few excuses at the end. Instead, have a transition planned out beforehand for what you can do to solidify the clean slate. "Let's go get some coffee and catch up. It'll be my treat. I miss knowing what you're up to."
- Be patient. Remember, just because someone accepts your apology doesn't mean they've fully forgiven you. It can take time, maybe a long time, before the injured party can completely let go and fully trust you again. There is little you can do to speed this process up, but there are endless ways to bog it down. If the person is truly important to you, it's worth it to give them the time and space they need to heal.
- Stick to your word. This is every bit as important as every other step. A true apology entails a resolution, and you have to carry out your promise in order for the apology to be sincere and complete. Otherwise, your apologies will lose their meaning, and trust may disappear beyond the point of no return.
- One on one. If you can, pull the person aside so that you can apologize while you're alone. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of other people influencing the person's decision, but it will also make you a little less nervous. However, if you insulted the person publicly and made him/her lose face, your apology is much more effective if done publicly.
- Use relaxed and humble body language. Keeping your arms crossed or pointing fingers will put the other person on the defensive.
- If the person is willing to talk to you about making amends, see this as an opportunity. If you've forgotten your wife's birthday, for instance, you might decide to celebrate another night and make it extra wonderful and romantic. This won't relieve you of responsibility for remembering the next important occasion, of course, but it will show that you're willing to take special time and effort.
- One apology will often cause another, either from you for something else you realized you are sorry for, or from the other person because they realize the conflict was mutual. Be prepared to forgive.
- A proper apology is always about the injured party. Keep your apology focused on the actual wrong done, and the recipient.
- Don't keep asking if he or she is mad at you. This puts the focus back on you, and makes you sound impatient and selfish. Just as it takes time to heal, it can take time to forgive.
- DO NOT apologize through a text message, e-mail, or over an instant message chat session. It's best to do this in person, or over the phone if necessary.
- Sometimes attempted apologies turn into a rehash of the same argument you wanted to amend. Be very careful not to re-argue any topics or open any old wounds.
- Don't be too surprised (or suspicious) if you are forgiven. Take people at their word, just like they took your apology.
- Don't apologize unless you really mean it. You can spot a false apologies from a mile away, and so can others.
- Even if you feel that the conflict was partly because of the other person's miscommunication, do not say so in the middle of your apology. At most, mention briefly that the other person can help you avoid misunderstandings by reminding you when you step out of line, and apologize again for the hurt you caused.
- Do not talk about about how bad you feel. The apology is not about your guilt, your shame, your fear of rejection, your anxiety or your loneliness while waiting to be forgiven. It is about the other person - remember that, even if it seems to be taking them a long time to forgive you.
- Never assume that the injured party is "punishing" you by taking time to forgive you, but watch for warning signs that they will hold a grudge forever. If you hear the words "I'm not going to let you forget this," or "I'll be your friend again, but this will change our friendship forever," listen to your gut, and consider letting the relationship go.
- NEVER think negatively about the situation. A little positive attitude can assist you in apologizing and can give you the hope of actually being forgiven.