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The Three Steps to An Effective Apology

Apologizing is hard to do. There’s really no way to get around that. For some reason, we have it in our heads that if we concede to being wrong, it is some how detrimental to our pride and we will be looked down upon. However, in reality, being able to apologize proves that you are capable of swallowing your pride and partaking in a bit of empathy if only for a split second. This is an incredible feat of inner strength and one that we don’t tend to give ourselves enough credit for. Furthermore, a true apology is somewhat of an art. If carefully delivered, it can be the difference between a sore situation intensified, or one that has been mitigated. Therefore, being able to offer a sympathetic and genuine apology when needed is a skill that everyone should have. Below, you’ll find a few helpful tips for how to apologize in a forthright and selfless way:

#1: Acknowledge what you’ve done.

Even if you don’t necessarily consider your offense to be as reprehensible as the person to whom you’re apologizing does, it’s still incredibly important for you to acknowledge where you went wrong and why it may have caused hurt hurt to the other person. It’s simply not sufficient (in most cases) to hurl an “I’m sorry” and then move on- people need to feel as though you truly understand your mistake in order to feel as though they were offered an honest apology. Furthermore, saying it out loud may help you to have the “aha!” moment, and become a bit more clear as to where the other person is coming from.

#2: Attempt a selfless apology.

Meaning, make the apology about them, not about you. Don’t attempt to justify your actions in the midst of an apology. This comes across as selfish, not remorseful. Instead of using statements such as “I feel as though…” or “I did it because…”, start with “I understand why you feel this way”. It will allow the other person the opportunity to see that you are concerned with their feelings about the situation.

#3: Make amends however possible.

If possible, be sure to clean up your mess in whatever way you can. For instance, if you borrowed an item of clothing from a friend and lost it, replace it. If you insulted a co worker (even if it was unknowingly), send her flowers. And then, make it a point to let the other person know that you don’t intend to let it happen again in the future.


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