Apologizing to everyone you hurt is an intimidating task. It requires you to drop your pride, admit you were wrong, and put the feelings of other people before your own. If you are experiencing sincere feelings of regret but do not know how to properly apologize, be reassured that the foundation of a real apology is having your heart in the right place. By apologizing to those you love, you may restore your relationships and gain back trust.
1. Accept Responsibility
Recognizing that you made a mistake and accepting responsibility for it is the first step to a sincere apology. Psychologist, psychoanalyst and author Joseph Burgo warns you never to use the words "if" or "but" when apologizing, as this casts the blame for the incident away from yourself and justifies it. For example, if you say "I'm sorry, but I was having a hard day", you are blaming your action on your hard day instead of your own error. Owning up to your mistake will demonstrate that you know you wronged this person and that you want him to recognize that.
2. Say, "I'm Sorry"
Two simple words are the key to apologizing to everyone you hurt and beginning to make things right again. In her book "Apology: The Importance and Power of Saying 'I'm Sorry," author Sheila Quinn Simpson states that the phrase, "I'm sorry," is one of the most important expressions of love. She explains that the phrase supports wholeness, integrity and the well-being of others. It may sound simple, but verbally expressing your regret will effectively demonstrate your sincerity.
3. Demonstrate Remorse
Expressing genuine sadness over your error is an important part of apologizing. James V. Scott, speaker at the Calgary Truth and Reconciliation Conference Presentation, reports that the third characteristic of a substantial apology is remorse. The people you hurt essentially want you to experience the same pain that the incidence has caused them, and when you demonstrate you remorse, it shows them that you "get it." This leads to an emotional connection that would be difficult to build any other way.
4. Do Not Force Them to Forget
Even if the people you hurt accept your apology and forgive you, this does not mean they will forget what you did to offend them. Professor Charles Hauss, Director of Policy and Research at Search for Common Ground USA, says the only way forgiveness is possible is through remembrance of the wrongdoing. It is essential that you respect the fact that the people you offended simply will not forget what happened, but may choose to forgive you and not hold the offense against you.
- Apology: The Importance and Power of Saying "I'm Sorry"; Sheila Quinn Simpson
- Psychology Today: The Art of the Apology
- United Church: The Importance of Apology in Healing and Reconciliation
- Beyond Intractability: What Are Apology and Forgiveness?
- On Apology; Aaron Lazare
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