Here’s how to apologize when you are wrong and how not to apologize too much.
Social support is a pleasurable and often necessary form of connection in our lives. Nevertheless, from time to time, all of us have conflicts in our relationships that may need to be remedied. In most cases, a good apology can help you and the other people involved resolve the issue.
We hear the words, “I’m sorry”, all the time. We may utter the words if we accidentally bump into someone on the street or even if we didn’t hear someone properly. But the phrase, “I’m sorry”, isn’t always just about simple mistakes. Sometimes we can really hurt the people in our lives with our words and actions, which may require an apology.
Apologizing is the act of expressing regret or remorse to someone when you have done something wrong. A sincere and genuine apology goes beyond just saying “I’m sorry.” A good example of an apology can include the following ingredients:
Apologies can help the wrongdoer take responsibility for their actions and help reduce any guilt they may hold about their behavior. Subsequently, a good apology can make the person who was wronged feel better, heard, and understood. Apologies can be a great source of building communication between you and your relationships and can allow an opportunity to learn from your mistakes (Howell, Turowski, & Buro, 2012; Schumann & Dweck, 2014).
How to Apologize Sincerely
There are several examples of contexts in which apologies may be necessary. For example, maybe you missed an important deadline on a project at work and failed to communicate any challenges you had. Perhaps this mistake lost you a client or added more work for a coworker or supervisor. You are human and mistakes happen. However, an apology could be necessary to clear the air about miscommunication and allow you the opportunity to offer ways to help.
Whether you are at work, school, at home with your family, out with your partner and friends, or interacting with a stranger, mistakes can happen anywhere. Typically, when you make a mistake or hurt someone, it is important to apologize to the person or people affected. Apologizing to others can be a really difficult experience. A gentle reminder that it is okay to be nervous, anxious, or worried about how the apology will go. We are here to help provide you with concrete examples of how to apologize to others.
A good apology could include the following phrases:
As you may have noticed, these four sentences match the ingredients of a good apology that were listed above. It is important to note that every apology may not follow this exact formula, as your apology will likely have to be tailored to the situation and the person you are communicating with. However, this is a good basis to start from and later alter if you are trying to find the right words for your apology.
A critical key to apologizing sincerely is saying your apology with empathy. It may not have been your intention to hurt someone, but you still made an impact on them that caused hurt. Being able to see how they felt in this situation and understanding how it could have affected them is what being empathetic encompasses.
Hopefully, you don’t find yourself in frequent situations where apologies are necessary. But in case you do, remember that even though apologizing can be scary, it can also help you learn and improve your relationships.
Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.