Struggling to Make a Genuine Apology? Here’s What You Can Do
Have you ever been at the receiving end of a lacklustre and what seems like an insincere apology? Most of us may have, and I can say for sure that it may even be worse than whatever offence was committed. Though we may not be quick to admit to this, we may even have been the ones issuing the evasive apology since asking for forgiveness is rarely easy and hardly comes naturally to anyone.
But it’s an important life skill. It’s important to acknowledge your mistakes, understand how you may have played a role in someone else’s hurt and to apologise for causing the same. A genuine apology can sometimes be life saving and the only thing which can repair broken relationships.
So if you may have struggled in making genuine, heartfelt apologies despite your best intention in the past, read on to for some advice on how to apologise like you mean it:
1. Really Mean It
Too often the word “sorry” is thrown around meaninglessly just to fill the silence or because we think it is what is expected out of us. Don’t apologise until you actually understand how your actions or word may have caused someone pain. Don’t say sorry till you really are. It’s not meant to be said to dissolve a situation, or as a lame excuse for bad behaviour.
It is supposed to be exploratory rather than curt or defensive; and unless it comes from a place of self-awareness and understanding it can never be real.
2. Ask Yourself “What Can They Be Feeling?”
The only way to understand the impact of your actions on someone else is to be empathetic about the situation. So place yourself in their shoes and imagine the situation from their point of view.
Also, sometimes the answer may be that you wouldn’t be so angry. And that’s okay, that might be your honest reaction – but in this case endeavour to empathise further. Ask yourself – who is this person? How are their reactions typically? Think a little of their history, experiences and general personality and try to imagine how they may have felt.
3. No If’s, No Buts
“I am sorry if you felt bad” or “I am sorry but so and so happened” are no apologies. Just excuses.
The only way to apologise is to be straight up and honest without any if’s and buts. Instead of being defensive acknowledge what the other person may have been feeling. For example: “I am really sorry. I am sure it must have been very annoying to wait for me for so long when I said I would come earlier.”
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4. Offer to Make Amends
Accepting or not accepting an apology is obviously the other person’s prerogative, but you need to be sincere about your apology and about wanting them to feel better. A good way to do that is to ask what will help.
Apologising isn’t a piece of cake at all. A genuine apology takes some sort of inner work which isn’t always a lot of fun but it’s ultimately just about accepting the wrong you may have done and taking responsibility of your action and it’s consequences.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)