Saying "I'm sorry" to your Grandmother requires sensitivity.

How to Apologize to Your Grandma

by Lucie Westminster

Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes most affect the ones you love the most -- including your grandmother. Because your grandmother plays a special role in your life, if you said or did something that caused hurt feelings and now you feel bad about your actions. However, if this situation does occur, apologizing to her in a respectful, appropriate way will begin the process of her forgiving you for your previous actions.

1. Setting of Apology

Apologize to your grandmother in a private setting. Ideally, go to her home, so that she will feel more comfortable and less threatened in her own environment. This also enables your grandmother to see your facial expressions and body language while you tell her how sorry you are. If an in-person apology is not possible, then apologize to her over the phone or via a video chat from a quiet location within your house. No matter what method of apology you use, choose a quiet place to talk so that she can hear the emotions in your voice when you ask for forgiveness. Never use email to apologize, because she may interpret that as an easy way out of a necessary apology. Anyone can type the words, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it,” but without human interaction, words on a screen do not convince the reader of much.

2. Making Eye Contact

Look at your grandmother in the eye as you tell her how sorry you are that you have hurt her. Bend or squat so that you see her eye-to-eye -- at her eye level. Pull up a chair and sit next to her, but don't get so close to make her feel uncomfortable. If she is particularly upset with you, she might not want you to sit close to her. If so, respect her distance, but sit close enough so that she can hear your words and see your facial expressions.

3. Tone of Voice and Sincerity of Apology

Use a kind, but distinct voice when apologizing to your grandma. She will know if you do not really mean what you are saying and that you are apologizing solely because someone told you to or that someone "guilted" into doing so. Instead, use a friendly tone and speak from your heart. Saying, "I'm sorry" is not always enough and you need to explain why you are apologizing. Often, it is the explanation that results in forgiveness, because the injured one knows your apology is more than words. As you do so, use shorter sentences to get your point across, rather than long sentences, so that you don't confuse her.

4. Additional Considerations

Although the focus of your apology must center on your grandmother, do not forget to apologize to other members of your family, if they also were affected by the incident. Apologize to each person individually, because you want to make a one-on-one apology with each person. Take into consideration the cognitive status of your grandmother. As a person ages, memory and cognitive abilities might decline, resulting in confusion, so be sensitive to the possibility that you might need to repeat an apology to her.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

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