Just Say You’re Sorry –
The words, “I’m sorry” can get us out of trouble when we’ve done
something wrong or hurt someone we care about but the key to a good
apology is really meaning it and convincing the other person that you
are truly remorseful. Apologizing just for the sake of keeping the peace
is not an effective way to apologize. In doing so the recipient of the
apology will most likely see through you and realize that your apology
is insincere. A sincere and well timed apology, however, will help to
mend the relationship that was harmed by your words or actions.
The most important way to prove that you are truly sorry for hurting
someone is to ensure that the hurtful action is not repeated.
Apologizing over and over while continuing to make the same mistake
shows that your apology is not really sincere. On the other hand if you
really mean that you are sorry for an action you will take careful steps
not to repeat this action. Apologizing for your actions is one thing but
being cautious not to repeat your actions really proves that you are
Being specific regarding the reason for your apology also really proves
that you are sorry. Many people are quick to offer an apology when they
realize someone is upset with them but often they don’t take the time to
figure out why the other person is upset. Apologizing without stating
the reason for the apology shows that you don’t understand the problem
and that you aren’t sincere in your apology. This is not an effective
way to make an apology. However, if you offer a specific reason for your
apology you are proving that you understand what you did to hurt the
other person and that do not want to repeat that action.
Another way to prove that your apology is authentic
is to be sure to offer the apology in person. Having a third party speak
to the person you have offended or apologizing via email or voice mail
conveys a lack of caring. This kind of apology shows that you aren’t
truly sorry for your actions. Meeting with the person face to face to
have a sincere conversation and offer your apology is one way to really
prove that you are sorry. It shows that you care enough about the other
person to meet with them directly to try to make amends for your
contributions to the disagreement.
In apologizing, if you want to prove that you really mean it, be careful
not to place blame on the person you are apologizing to. Your apology is
about telling the other person why you believe that you did something
wrong. While they may have contributed to the situation, now is not the
time to point out their faults. Instead take full responsibility for
what you have done wrong. Accepting full responsibility for your actions
and apologizing for them without placing blame on the other person will
prove that your apology is sincere.
A genuine apology will also include telling the other person why your
actions were wrong and how you intend to avoid hurting them in the
future. Doing this proves to them not only that you understand you were
wrong but that you understand why you were wrong. It also lets them know
that you have already formulated a plan of action to ensure that this
situation does not arise in the future.
timing of your apology can also help to prove that you really are sorry.
Waiting too long to apologize may show that you don’t really care and
that you are simply apologizing as an afterthought. An apology that is
made too early may risk being ignored because the recipient of the
apology is still too upset to listen to what you are saying. It’s
important to give the other person a chance to vent their anger and calm
down before rushing to apologize. After a reasonable amount of time
approach them and let them know that you understand their anger and
believe that it is justified and that you wanted to give them a chance
to calm down before apologizing.
Sometimes it is not enough to simply apologize for your words or
actions. It is often necessary to not only apologize but to also prove
that your apology is sincere. A truly sincere apology proves that you
are sorry by addressing the issue and acknowledging what you have done
wrong while validating the other person’s right to be angry and
addressing how you will avoid similar actions in the future.
By Sandra Lovelace
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