Everyone makes mistakes from time to time that require an apology. Maybe you lost your temper or exercised poor judgment. Not all apologies are created equal. Some apologies are more effective than others. Learning to apologize appropriately is a valuable skill you can rely on again and again.
Keep these tips in mind when making an apology:
- Be prepared for your apology to be rejected. Depending on the personality of the offended party and the type and severity of your offense, it’s possible your apology could be rejected. How will you feel if this happens? Do you have a follow up plan? Or are you willing to just the let the matter go?
- Not all apologies are accepted. Not all offended people are easily soothed. Be prepared for any possible outcome.
- Just do it. The longer you take to give your apology, the longer both of you will suffer. Waiting too long also provides an opportunity for the misunderstanding to grow. An apology tomorrow might be too late. Be brave and courteous. Do it and move on.
- Minimize the explanation. Explaining yourself for too long only sounds like an excuse and an attempt to shift blame. Too much explanation will result in your apology seeming insincere. If an explanation is helpful, include it, but avoid making your apology all about you. Keep the focus on the other person.
- Embrace sincerity. We’ve all been on the receiving end of apologies that were less than sincere. Make your apology sincere and from the heart. An insincere apology can result in a bigger mess than you had before the apology. It’s not easy to make yourself vulnerable in a potentially hostile situation, but it’s the only method that can work.
- Choose your words carefully. There are a thousand ways to say you’re sorry. Give the situation the time it deserves and think about what you want to say. Consider how the other person will receive it. How likely are your words to accomplish your objective?
- You might want to enlist the help of a friend. Practice your apology and ask for constructive criticism.
- Avoid expectation of anything in return. At the very least, you’ll get to ease your conscience at least a little. You might even receive all the forgiveness you seek. Depending on the circumstances, you might have to wait a while to receive anything at all. Do the best you can so you can walk away from the interaction knowing you gave it your all.
- If applicable, repair any damage you’ve caused. Did you back over their rake with your car? Buy another rake. If you spilled fruit juice on their carpeting, pay to have it professionally cleaned. Straighten everything out with everyone that was affected. It’s possible your transgression may have cause additional challenges with others.
- Consider how you can avoid similar issues in the future. What was the primary cause of your misdeed? Did you act without a full understanding of the matter? Was your language unjustifiably harsh?
- What can you do to ensure the same situation doesn’t reoccur? It might take some time to find the solution.
You’ll be prepared the next time an apology is necessary. Be bold enough to make your apologies quickly, sincerely, and selflessly. But spend at least a few minutes choosing your words wisely. It makes a difference. Some apologies are better than others. After you’ve given your apology and done your best to mend the situation, be accepting of the outcome and move on.