How to apologize was an interesting topic that was brought to my attention recently. I appreciate the desire this person has in wanting to improve their life through the way that they communicate. The conversation inspired me to blog about it, in hopes that it may help others wondering about the same thing.
I recorded a video on how to apologize “the right way” so if you are a visual person, check it out!
Did you know there is a right way to apologize?
Most people don’t feel good about apologizing. Making the mistake in the first place is not a good feeling. To make matters worse, we have to face the person we’ve hurt by it, and admit responsibility for that pain.
As much as we may want it to be short and sweet to tear off the band-aid and move on already, “I’m sorry” just simply isn’t good enough!
Learning “the right way” to apologize seems so elementary for some people. After all, we’ve been taught since we were young children how to apologize. What could possibly be wrong with how we are doing it now as an adult?
Before we get into the lesson on how to apologize the right way, I want to comfort you so that you can feel ready to address the issue.
Mistakes hurt the person who made them almost as much as the person affected by them, and it’s normal to feel this way.
Being human means many things. Mistakes, as we’ve all come to find out, are part of it. Unfortunately, unintentionally hurting another human is often a byproduct of our humanity.
Of course, it IS usually an accident, even if the other person may not be ready to acknowledge that.
Never attach to your identity that you ARE a mistake, or that you’re a bad person for making them. Anything following “I am” holds immense weight on your subconscious, so choose those words wisely when you’re thinking over what to say.
We need to give ourselves grace when we do something wrong to someone else. It’s okay, relax. Let’s focus on the other person’s feelings.
We blew it and now we need to take responsibility to make it right.
First, let’s back up and look at what’s wrong with how we apologize.
As we have grown into an adult, we become stronger in our ego then that of the young child we once were. We are more aware of our self-worth and over time have developed issues involving confidence and whether or not we feel significant. Many people simply make a practice of shoving the responsibility of issues onto someone else and beginning a negative pattern of blaming.
Here we are as an adult, and we don’t really stop long enough in our busy day to truly feel what it is the other is feeling. Immediately, there is a knee-jerk reaction to protect ourselves. It’s normal that we wouldn’t look at a situation through someone else’s eyes.
This is where we begin the lesson today.
Examples Of A Bad Apology
As a child, your Mother or Father might grab you by the shoulders, and face you towards the other person. That’s a good first step, but it turns for the worse when they demand that you recite, “I’m sorry” to the other person.
This would be a bad apology. What’s so wrong with it? There’s no point in this brief exchange where you acknowledge that the other person has a right to feel upset. You’re not even admitting to doing any wrong at all.
To make matters worse, the conversation is so short and so forced, no effort is being made to rise to the other person’s level of pain. It’s just a blank statement you’re making because “Mom said so”. What good is an apology that’s clearly only being done out of obligation?
Now, as we have gotten older we say something like, “I’m sorry if I/that hurt you” OR “I’m sorry you feel that way”. This implies an undertone that you don’t agree with them and completely invalidates their feelings. When we invalidate someone else’s feelings, it makes them feel insignificant.
We remember our studies into the “Human Needs Psychology” where each and every human on the earth needs to feel significant. It isn’t our job to walk around and make everyone we come in contact with feel significant. It is however, our desire as a loving soul to care for another human’s feelings. Especially those whom we have a close relationship with.
When we come to an apology with this in mind, we can soften our ego and be really present minded.
How To Apologize Without Saying “I’m Sorry”.
Eye contact is important with your apology but more than that, you need to show, as in your body language, that you are really “into” them and their issue. Say something like, “I never wanted to hurt you.” OR “I would never hurt your feelings on purpose.”
Now that you have acknowledge that you screwed up, the next step is to communicate that you understand how important their feelings are to you and finally, let them know that you won’t do it again.
Want more powerful strategies to improve your life?
As always, I encourage you to continue the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Share your own insight, or let me know how this post helped you. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!