How to Apologize Authentically
When my boys say “Sorry” in the flippant way that little kids do, I say to them: Say it like you mean it.
Unless you know what you’re sorry for and you are actually truly sorry for it, it’s useless to apologize. Think about the last time you said you were sorry: Did you take the time to really think about what you were saying sorry for? Did you acknowledge the hurt that your actions may have caused? The reality is no one is perfect. (Shocker, I know!). We all make mistakes and all have the capacity to hurt others through behaviors and actions – whether they are intentional or not.
An apology opens a dialogue.
Your willingness to step up and admit your mistake gives others the opportunity to communicate with you and deal with their feelings around the issue. When you apologize, you acknowledge that your behavior was unacceptable. Acknowledgement helps rebuild trust and reestablish a relationship with the person you hurt. It also gives you a chance to discuss what is and isn’t acceptable. It gives you both a chance to establish boundaries.
Saying I’m sorry can make you feel better, too!
When you’re honest with yourself and take responsibility for your action, you feel more self-confident, gain more self-respect, and improve your reputation. Admitting a mistake is an admirable act. Apologizing is also a BIG relief. When you come clean with a heart-filled apology, you alleviate guilt and stress and deepen your relationships while you’re at it.
Never apologize because you’re “supposed to”; apologize only if you are actually truly sorry. It must come from your heart. Fake apologies are just disrespect cloaked in a “Sorry”. And that’s gross. If you screwed up, admit it. Fess up. Come clean. You’ll feel sheepish, sure. And you’ll learn and be better. Cut yourself some slack: you’re human.
How to apologize effectively:
- Express remorse. Actually say the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” Out loud. With conviction. Be real, sincere, and authentic.
- Admit Responsibility. You did it, you were a jackass, so just own up to it. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Be compassionate.
- Make Amends. Make it right. Whatever it takes.
- Explain that you won’t repeat the action or behaviour. Reassure the other person that you’re going to change the behavior (as long as you actually ARE going to change it. Remember, no fake apologies here.) This helps rebuild trust.
Bottom line: Everyone makes mistakes. We’ve all hurt someone either accidentally or intentionally. Know when you’re in the wrong, own it, say you’re sorry, and put in the time to make it right.