An unaddressed misunderstanding can damage a friendship.

How to Apologize to a Friend Because of a Misunderstanding

by Eliza Martinez

Most friendships suffer their share of ups and downs, and most people are going to offend or hurt a friend at some point. Misunderstandings happen, but apologizing helps mend and preserve your friendship. Saying you're sorry is never easy, but doing so lets your friend know that she's important to you and that you don't want your friendship to die.

1. Timing

If a misunderstanding with your friend leaves her angry and hurt, she might not be ready to hear your explanation immediately. Timing your apology allows you to give a heartfelt one, while also giving your friend the chance to calm down and be receptive to your apology. If your friend is too angry to discuss what happened between the two of you, back off for a few days before trying again. If possible, apologize in person rather than over the phone or with an email because your friend will be better able to tune in to your body language and facial expressions.

2. Attitude

Your attitude is an important nonverbal aspect of apologizing to a friend after a misunderstanding, according to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Family Business Center. Your attitude should be one of regret, even if she misunderstood your intentions, words or actions. As you extend an apology, use non-defensive body language. Don't cross your arms, sigh loudly or roll your eyes. This won't convey an attitude of regret or remorse for the bad feelings between you. Instead, lean in toward your friend and make eye contact as you let her know you're sorry for the misunderstanding.

3. Wording

Your attitude during an apology is important, but the words you use to express your apology also matter. Acknowledge specifically what happened by saying you know it hurt her. For example, say "I know my words implied that I think your son isn't ready for team sports and I'm sorry," or "I'm sorry for telling someone that your pasta recipe wasn't that good." Don't make excuses or try to turn the situation in your favor. Simply let your friend know that you are aware of why she's angry or upset or that you're sorry for making her feel that way. "I apologize" or "I regret" are other sentiments that work well, according to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Family Business Center .

4. Explanation

Once you've expressed your apology for a misunderstanding, it's appropriate to offer an explanation. This type of open communication helps to preserve your relationship and put you back on good terms with each other. Perhaps you said something that came out wrong or was heard out of context. Maybe you forgot your friend's birthday or a party she had. Let her know exactly what happened, such as you wrote a date down wrong or you were comparing her new recipe to something else she makes that you like better. Once your friend sees that you didn't set out to hurt her, she might have an easier time forgiving you so you can both move on.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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