How to Really Apologize

Saying you’re sorry can feel incredibly intimidating, especially if your pride is exceptionally strong, which can get in the way of the ability to be fully sympathetic with another person in conflict. The good news is there’s a way to improve And, what exactly makes an apology sincere?

Emotional display is key for the success of your apology. If you’re angry or on the verge of tears, your apology probably won’t be received the way you intend, no matter how pure your intentions are. You can research and try all kinds of ways to get yourself into the right mindset for an apology. The fastest and easiest way to obtain emotional balance is to utilize your ability to breathe deeply.

Take a deep breath, pause and hold it for about 3 seconds, and then finally exhale. If you don’t feel results right away, repeat the steps as many times as you need to until your mind feels clear.

Once you feel more grounded, your next goal is to perceive the circumstances from the other person’s outlook. Answering some quick questions can give you a much clearer understanding of their perspective: What emotions are they displaying? What caused the problem or sequence of events? Why is the other individual upset? What did you do to possibly contribute to their suffering?

Word choice is major when apologizing. Try to avoid using the word “you” as much as possible. Doing so may insinuate that your focus is only on yourself. Instead, turn your center and word choice more toward your own faults. Use, “I” instead. Your listener will be more likely to give you the time of day if you’re more honest about your mistakes.

Transform your words into actions.

Actions speak much louder than words… I know you’re probably thinking- Another blog post with yet another cliche. But this is a good one. This is actually the most important aspect of an apology.

It isn’t enough to only say you’re sorry. You must show the other person that you’re conscious of your bad behavior and you don’t intend on letting it happen again.

You don’t necessarily have the power to “fix” the situation, because ultimately you can’t control anyone’s emotions other than your own. However, there are always ways to show immediate support and change of behavior, no matter the severity of the situation.

Is there anything you can do immediately to show your concern? Can you help clean up the coffee that you caused your coworker to spill all over their paperwork? Can you give your friend a hug after you got a little too sassy with her in the car? Other than first verbally apologizing, displaying your regret and sympathy is the best way to show that you’re genuinely sorry.

Naturally, some things you need to apologize for may lean more on the serious side. In these situations, you won’t be able to “fix” anything, at the moment. The most you have the power to do is provide positivity and a genuine apology.

Influential aspects of a sincere apology:

  • Eye contact
  • Pronunciation
  • Body language
  • Sincerity
  • Empathy

The main purpose of your apology is to convince the other person that you are truly sorry for whatever you did to assist in or contribute to their hurt. Now, I’m certainly not advising that you do this in a manipulative way. I’m assuming you actually feel bad about what occurred and want to apologize. If you don’t feel any remorse, there isn’t much this article can do for you.

Apologizing can seem tough, but ultimately it’s only you who is in your way. Ultimately, you can’t predict whether or not the individual will accept your apology. What you do have power over, however, is how sincerely you apologize. If you do this, you can at least go to sleep knowing you did the right thing.

Do you remember the last time you apologized for something? How did it go? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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