Saying sorry isn’t always easy, even if we know we’ve done something wrong. Apologizing to people we love can be the most difficult apology of all. Admitting that we’ve hurt someone we love is unsettling, but this short sentence can bring about peace, reconciliation, and closure to a bad situation.
The ability to apologize sometimes seems like a lost art form. There are too many people who excuse their behavior or blame others for their troubles. Rushing an apology because you feel obligated to say you’re sorry is almost worse than not apologizing at all.
Here are six ways to gracefully apologize the next time this situation comes to you:
1. Practice sincerity. A sincere apology is heartfelt and honest. We all know when we’ve been apologized to by someone who doesn’t mean it. The right apology can save a struggling relationship and mend fences. However, if you don’t think you owe someone an apology, don’t fake one. Figure out if you want to mend that relationship or not.
2. Experience remorse. If you sincerely regret your actions, your apology should be remorseful. Saying you’re sorry is important, but you should also include in your apology how you understand your actions hurt that other person.
3. Don’t play the blame game. Take responsibility for your actions that hurt that other person. They don’t want to hear excuses about how you were going through a hard time, or that you were tired or stressed, or whatever other excuse you can come up with (even if it’s true). The person you are apologizing to should feel like you are taking responsibility for your actions, which also plays into being sincere with your apology.
4. Be specific with your apology. Apologize for exactly what you did, and make sure all the hurt has been aired out between you and the person you harmed. Acknowledge what you did wrong and pledge to make amends in the future.
5. No ifs, ands, or buts. Don’t make excuses or quantify your apology in any way. How you apologize can affect the honesty and sincerity of that apology. Rather than asking if you hurt someone’s feelings, assume you did. This validates their feelings and makes your apology specific and sincere.
6. Finally, ask for forgiveness. The best apologies include asking for that person’s forgiveness. Your actions or words have caused that person harm, and they might be reconsidering the relationship they have with you. There could be broken trust and a lot of ground to be recovered.
Remember to think before you speak- actions and words can cause serious harm to relationships with friends, family, and other loved ones. If you do need to apologize, make sure you do so with an attitude of remorse, grace, and with the intention to ask for forgiveness. Apologizing shouldn’t be a lost art form; make sure you know how to apologize well when you need to.