“Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” (~Erich Segal) is not the case in healthy relationships. People make mistakes and part of learning from them is to acknowledge the infraction. Saying sorry is also a step toward healing those who have been hurt. But just saying the words is not enough. The intent and manner the apology is delivered speaks volumes. Here are five important factors to keep in mind when saying sorry:
(i) Acknowledge the role you played and what you could have done differently. Explaining the reason behind your action provides an understanding that will further ensure you will be forgiven;
(ii) Be sincere and mean it. If you do not believe you are wrong in the situation do not further insult others by giving a false apology;
(iii) Do not include the other person’s behavior as way to excuse your behavior;
(iv) Refrain from using phrases like, “I am sorry you felt hurt by my action.” This statement suggests it is the other person’s emotional response that caused the problem, and not your behavior; and
(v) Prepare to apology more than once. Of course this depends on the situation. Never allow someone to repeatedly berate you after a wholehearted apology, but more than once may be necessary depending on the severity.
Apologizing is not easy and it takes practice; however, if you mean it, the right words will flow without much thought. Take responsibility for your emotional and behavioral responses and more times than not a misunderstanding will be the culprit.
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