A look at the different styles of apologizing.
Offering an apology seems like a simple enough human exercise, but it can be very stressful to face. We convince ourselves that maybe we won’t have to apologize, this too shall pass! That is until it becomes obvious that we need to take back our words or actions. I assume I am good at this, but I need to brush up on my understanding of what a real apology looks like. How I express myself when I need to make amends could use some review by asking myself a question; is this apology for me or the person I have offended? This had me realizing I most likely apologize to get something, not give.
Shouldn’t an apology be inherent in our DNA like breathing? It’s not and it can be very difficult to say these words and mean it, I’m Sorry.
Such a simple combination of words, yet so hard at times to speak.
Is There A Right Way to Apologize?
As someone who has been married over three decades, I realized, when my husband and I have words, we both have a certain style of apologizing. And after all these years, neither one of us has deviated from what is comfortable when we need to ask for forgiveness.
The various approaches and style by which this message is delivered, piqued my interest. There are options that should be explored, maybe my one approach, my built-in response, isn’t the best move. I want to offer a sincere apology that will encourage us to move forward rather than looking for a declared winner. This only creates more hurt and another round of apologies. I also recognize we both need to step away from trying to control the outcome, something many apologies attempt to do. This leads me to review how my style of apologizing, stacks up against what the professionals recommend. Not only will this help with how I maneuver in this ever-changing world but also better communication with those I live with.
When to Say Sorry
I need to offer an apology when my actions have caused harm or words that spill from my mouth hurt another person or a group’s feelings. Pretty straight forward? Yes? But no, because we have all been witness to grudges and misunderstandings lasting days to decades as no apology ever comes. It’s safe to say, there’s work to be done.
According to Psychology Today there are nine essential ingredients of a true apology:
- I’m sorry, but…Who hasn’t been the recipient of this? Nice try, but this is so insincere. No one is owning up to their actions.
- Focus on Actions, not the Other Person’s Response. A great example; I’m sorry that you feel hurt by what I said, is not an apology. This is more appropriate; I’m sorry about what I said to you, it was insensitive and uncalled for. Own it.
- Don’t go Overboard. This is me, completely falling over myself to apologize because I am in pain and filled with remorse. I need to stay focused on the other person, not myself by acknowledging the hurt party, not me. Lay out what took place, apologize and move on.
- Blame Game. Regardless of who’s to blame, or provoked the situation in the first place, I can only apologize for my part and NOT look for the other person to own their portion. I can only own mine.
- Corrective Action. Make it up to the person! I promise to not do this again and let’s discuss it immediately if it does happen. I want to do better and not hurt your feelings.
- Don’t be a Repeat Offender. Don’t keep repeating the behavior that causes the problem. That is not owning up. An example; I’m so sorry I left you off the email chain, again, causing you to miss the meeting. Make a note of what has to be fixed and do it.
- Don’t Look to Shut the other Person Down. An example is apologizing for something you have apologized for numerous times. If it still bothers the other person, don’t silence them recognize something has triggered them and address it without getting emotional.
- An Apology is not for me to feel better. If my apology makes the other person feel worse, it is not an apology at all. Sometimes an apology will not be accepted, we all have to accept that. Everyone has their own time frame on healing
- When sorry is not enough. I have to accept my actions may not be forgiven. If a situation is unable to be repaired or takes more time, I have to accept that.
The goal is to make strides towards a better understanding of making peace when we need to, and repair what has been broken, right away. I want to be that person who will apologize with ease and even better; avoid going to that place where I need to make amends if I’m a repeat offender! Nothing gets repaired if self-realization doesn’t happen. I’m sorry to say, this is true. 🙂
What does the Bible say about apologizing? A great read: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-bible-says-about-apologizing-712777
Here’s a video I really enjoyed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7vP01U8qr4
Articles on the topic: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201811/the-art-the-apology