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Learn How to Make a Genuine Apology

Learn How to Make a Genuine Apology

So you know you messed up. You hurt someone else, whether it’s a friend, family member, or significant other. You may have spoken harshly, teased someone insensitively, failed to follow through on a promise, or in some other way disappointed or let down someone close to you.

In the best-case scenario, you say “I’m sorry,” and that’s about it. But often we’re embarrassed and want to move on so quickly that we don’t make sort of apology that is going to help repair your relationship. A sincere, genuine, and deeply felt apology can not only a fix the situation, it can make your relationship even stronger and closer than it was before.

So how do you make a genuine apology and show that you really mean it? Let’s go through the steps. For our purposes, we’ll use the example of forgetting plans to have dinner with your girlfriend and went out with your friends instead.

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1. Use specifics when you say you’re sorry

Just saying “Sorry” doesn’t cut it. “I’m really sorry you had to eat alone” is much better.  It shows you’re not trying to avoid a discussion of what you did wrong.

2. Ask how the other person feels

Yeah, you think you know why she’s mad, but maybe you don’t have the full story. Asking her to share more of her feelings will make her realize that you genuinely want to connect and understand her perspective. This will make her feel loved and close, in spite of your mistake. Also, it gives you a chance to correct any assumptions that your action may have led the other party to make.

Example:

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You: “What were you feeling when I didn’t text?”

Girlfriend: “I was sad. I was like, he doesn’t care enough to even contact me. Is that true?”

You: “No, I love you.  I genuinely forgot we were eating together tonight. But I should have texted to check, since I forget stuff a lot.”

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3. You openly acknowledge the other person’s feelings

This is called empathy, and it means that you are trying to understand exactly how the other person’s perspective. Try to remember a time when you felt the same way.

Example: “I really get how upset you are that I didn’t remember to text you and that I keep forgetting plans. You feel like I was thoughtless and selfish. I actually felt the same way when I was waiting around for my brother to call me last week to hang out, and then he never did.”

Remember, this is not the time to bring up anything negative about the person to whom you’re apologizing. Definitely don’t say, “I know how you feel because you didn’t text me yesterday all day so I had no idea if we had plans later.”

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4. Show that you’re committed to change

Come up with a plan to address this situation in the future so it doesn’t happen again. You want to show that this episode has taught you something. You’re going to try to behave differently in the future, so you’re less likely to hurt the other person again.

Example: “I don’t want this to happen again, I hate seeing you so upset. How about we sit down on Sunday nights and decide which nights we are definitely eating together and then I can put them in my calendar?”

These four steps will help you express your regret and sadness for having hurt another person, as well as convey that you understand their perspective and are committed to not messing up in the same way again. Instead of a quick “I’m sorry”—which can easily turn into a huge fight, as you may have experienced—these steps will ensure that your apology ends up making the relationship more trusting, solid, and close.

Happy apologizing!

More by this author

Samantha Rodman

Clinical psychologist, author, blogger, wife and mommy.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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