There is an art to apologizing sincerely for it is much more than just empty words. Though, who wouldn’t forgive anything this little puppy had done, so apologizing is not just words but actions also.
As I dug into the theory behind the art of apologizing I was stunned at what I discovered. Just as we have to learn many life-skills if we are to be successful on our journey, apologizing with sincerity is one of them that not many of us take time to develop.
Art of Apologizing Requires Specificity
While saying “I’m sorry” can be a good start to apologizing, it is not enough on its own. Simply saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t provide any information about what you’re sorry for. This can make it difficult for the person you’re apologizing to, to understand what you’re apologizing for and that you truly understand the impact of your actions.
An insincere apology keeps the focus on you and not on the other person’s response, while the sincere apology validates the other person feeling offended and hurt. “I’m sorry that you felt hurt by what I said at the party last night,” is not an apology. Try instead, “I’m sorry about what I said at the party last night. A small but very vital difference.
Art of Apologizing Needs Accountability
“I’m sorry” can sometimes be a way to avoid taking full responsibility for your actions. It’s all too easy to play the blame game in your heart, even if you don’t say it out loud.
It’s important to follow up with an acknowledgment of how your behaviour, or words affected the other person and what you plan to do to make amends. There are no thoughts of justification in a genuine apology as you sincerely express your regret.
Apologizing Requires Genuine Remorse
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and never more so when it comes to the art of apologizing. We need to react to the situation for which an apology is necessary with genuine remorse. A sincere apology does not leave the offended party isolated, feeling hurt and or angry.
Apologizing is just the first step in repairing a relationship or addressing a problem. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it takes one small step at a time, to achieve anything worthwhile in the journey of life.
It’s important to take action to make things right and prevent similar issues from happening in the future. Saying “I’m sorry” without any follow-up actions can come across as insincere.
Saying Sorry Takes Courage
There are many reasons why saying sorry can be difficult.
Pride: Apologizing can feel like admitting defeat or showing weakness, which can be difficult for some people to accept. It can be hard to acknowledge that we were wrong, especially if we feel that we have a lot at stake. When making a public apology many public figures have a hard time apologizing.
Fear of consequences: Sometimes, we avoid apologizing because we’re worried about how the other person will react. We may fear that they will be angry or upset with us, or that apologizing will make us look bad in their eyes.
Lack of empathy: Sometimes, we may not fully understand the impact of our actions on the other person, or we may not be able to put ourselves in their shoes. This can make it difficult to feel genuinely sorry and to express our apologies in a way that resonates with the other person.
Insecurity: In some cases, people may avoid apologizing because they worry that it will make them look bad or that they will lose respect from others.
Cultural or social conditioning: In some cultures, or social groups, apologizing may be seen as a sign of weakness, and people may be encouraged to avoid showing vulnerability or admitting fault.
When An Apology is Manipulation
“I am sorry that you think I did something wrong.” “I am sorry that you feel I am a bad person.” The “I am sorry, but maybe you’re just too sensitive.” These are empty apologies which put the onus on the person who was hurt.
The “I’m sorry you feel that way” approach, along with avoiding an argument in lieu of admitting fault, is good old fashioned gaslighting. Something some people get to be expert at.
Narcissists seem to think saying they’re sorry will get them instant forgiveness. An apology is a get-out-of-jail-free card for them, and when they play it, it’s to get back their power — not give it away. Behind most things that happen, like in a professional tennis match, there are other agendas that are seldom revealed.
Having apologized it pays to be still and assess what caused the upset in the first place. Were their other hidden causes that you were unaware of? There is many a riptide under the still waters on the surface.
Apologizing can be difficult, and takes courage, but it’s an important skill to develop and well worth the effort. Being able to take responsibility for our actions and apologize sincerely can help build stronger relationships and improve our communication with others.
A sincere apology is a sign of strength and integrity as well as showing real empathy for others. You can rebuild bridges and move past the incident that caused the hurt. There are always valuable lessons to learn from upsets and criticism and you may be successful even if you don’t feel it.
Finally, this quote: “Learning to apologize effectively, by word or actions, can help rekindle love that has been dimmed by pain.” There are lots of times when it is best to take the low road, so you will show confidence not arrogance.
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