It’s a horrible feeling knowing that you have caused another person pain, disappointed them and lost their trust.
Even though you may be filled with genuine remorse and want to apologize, you need to know that simply saying ‘Sorry’ might not be enough. In fact, in certain situations this generalized, one-worded apology can increase the amount of hurt and resentment in the one who was wronged. And that’s the last thing you want to do!
So, if your intent to apologize is sincere, it’s best to do it correctly.
Here is the Anatomy of a Sincere and Effective Apology:
- Acknowledge / describe what you did and take full responsibility. Note: This is not the time for justifying your behaviour. Leave that for when the other person is able and willing to hear it.
- Acknowledge / describe the pain, suffering and damage caused by your behaviour.
- Sincerely apologize (speak from your heart!) for what you did and the pain it has caused.
- Describe what you have learned from the experience and your goals for changing your behavior so that this will never happen again.
- Ask the other person if this is in line with how they want to be treated. Remember, one of the cornerstones of great relationships is communication so, Seek First to Understand. If your goals for changing your behaviour is not in line with how the other person wants to be treated, discuss it and make the necessary changes.
- Acknowledge that you understand ‘talk is cheap’ and that it will be your behaviour not your words which, over time, will earn back the trust of the other.
- Important: HOW you deliver the message, is part of the message itself. Pay special attention to your Delivery: tone and volume of voice, facial expressions, body language, choice of words and attitude.
Following this, give the person to whom you’re apologizing time to absorb what you have said and a chance to ask you questions. Answer honestly, don’t get defensive and again, be very mindful of your Delivery.
Important: Keep in mind that just because you’re ready to apologize, it doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it. When the wounds of the other are very deep, you will most likely have to repeat these steps a few times. If the relationship is truly important to you, you won’t have a second thought about doing this.
Now that you know the Anatomy of a Highly Effective Apology, make sure that when someone has wronged you, you don’t settle for less than an apology of this quality. Receiving a sincere apology allows you to develop Empathy for the one who hurt you and this will allow deep healing to take place. If you’d like to learn more about this, Tiny Buddha has a lovely article on this very point.
Thanks for taking time to read this post! The right information at the right time is a most powerful catalyst for change. For Individual Coaching, Workshops or an Inspiring Talk on this valuable topic, Contact Me!
Kristina Jansz, Life Skills and Empowerment Strategies 705 794-9900 firstname.lastname@example.org