Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, apologies can be a very necessary step to getting a relationship back on track. If you do find yourself needing to apologize, it’s important to first understand how to deliver a meaningful and sincere apology.
Here are 4 useful tips to get started:
1. Be sincere
Don’t apologize unless you’re truly ready to “right” your wrong, accept responsibility and move forward from the issue. There is nothing worse than a half-hearted, prideful apology; many would opt to not receive one at all if that’s the case. Besides, insincerity can be entirely counterproductive and might actually do more harm than good as nothing truly gets resolved beneath the surface.
Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it or are not willing to change. There is nothing worse than empty apologies from repeat offenders.
2. Don’t shift blame
“I will apologize, BUT_________.” No, stop this right now. Respectfully keeping the focus on your role in the situation will leave the door wide open for the other party to speak their truth without feeling as though they’re being attacked. This shows your willingness to listen and leaves the ball in their court. If they aren’t quite ready to accept or forgive, simply respect their wishes and give them their space. Remember, every situation is different and some might take more time than others, all depending on the severity of the offense.
3. Consider the time and place
As an introvert, I might be a bit biased in preferring that apologies be done in private. Of course, there are some special instances where a public apology might be absolutely necessary (i.e., to a specific group). Having one-on-one conversations to hash things out with whomever you’re having difficulties with tends to be more productive as opposed to having outside influences present, which can sometimes unnecessarily escalate a situation.
Another important point to consider is the appropriate time to deliver an apology. There’s a time and place for everything. Usually, weddings or funerals are probably not the right place for a “pow-wow.” Don’t overtake an event or celebratory function with your personal issues. A better option would be to set up a separate meeting, perhaps over coffee, to get it all figured out. Yes, coffee makes everything better (for the most part).
4. Accept that some relationships might change
In “falling out,” some relationships go back to normal without missing a beat, yet others might get a bit rocky. Depending on the circumstances, be prepared that sometimes things will never be the same. Healing comes with time in difficult situations and some distancing might occur. But hang in there and continue to learn/grow from those experiences. Most of all, don’t beat yourself up if your relationships don’t bounce back right away or at all.