In an ideal world, we’d all like to think we show up with our best selves first; not doing anything that upsets another or causes harm. We aspire to live our best lives, which means being 100% responsible, 100% of the time. And being 100% responsible means knowing how to apologise to another person is a handy skill.
Despite our best intentions we do stuff up from time to time, saying or doing the wrong thing. Remember, the other person’s reaction is simply that, their reaction. How you feel about it is your reaction. If you genuinely don’t feel your actions need apologising for, then don’t. It may be a case of taking a stand for you, your life and your boundaries. If you’ve got a good why then stick with it.
If you do need to apologise, here are some thoughts:
An apology can happen quickly and naturally in the heat of the moment. It won’t take away the sting for the other person as they are still left in a position of not getting their needs met.
3 Steps to your apology
The initial apology can be built on and this is how it ideally goes down. It’s three simple and easy steps:
- “I’m so sorry for insert action/event. I can see you’re upset and I’d like you to know I’m genuinely sorry for insert consequence. I’d like to work on repairing things between us and I’m open to any ideas you may have about that.”
- You may get a well thought out answer, which leads to a useful discussion. If you get a dumbfounded silence or a pissed off reply go to step 3..
- “Okay, please think about it and get back to me with anything you’d like to discuss.” And be prepared to follow this up. Repairing broken links in a relationship can take time and effort. Only you will know if it’s worth it.
A couple of disclaimers:
Only apologise if you yourself, or the organisation you represent, have done something wrong. Saying sorry as an automatic reaction is simply that – a reaction you’ve trained yourself to do and repeating it regularly doesn’t mean you are as genuine as you could be. If you’re on the receiving end of this it really does wear a bit thin. And oddly enough, it makes the receiver slightly more cautious as they try not to upset them – it certainly doesn’t lend itself to a genuine relationship.
The “Sorry, not sorry” scenario is not cool. Apologising because you feel you ‘have to’ shows. If you’re not genuinely sorry then maybe it’s because you’re making a stance. In which case you don’t need to apologise. If you’re not genuinely sorry and you’re the one in the wrong, it’s time to do some inner work about why you’re at the place you’re at. Leave the explanations and re-accusations alone. Say sorry for your part, genuinely and sincerely, and leave the rest alone.
Other people’s reactions are just that, THEIRS. They may not be open to accepting an apology. It’s their choice to be in this space. Once you have offered a genuine apology and attempted to make things right between you, it is reasonable to expect them to participate equally in rebuilding a changed relationship.
Genuine and appropriate
The things you end up apologising for will vary, from small to large. It’s best to start with making genuine repairs on the little things in life and be prepared to build on from there. Apologising doesn’t have to be a big deal. It simply needs to be genuine, and appropriate.
Apologising for asking your teenagers to be responsible for themselves is not required: that’s called parenting.
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