Since February’s theme is about relationships with your spouse, family, friends, and even yourself, the next unavoidable topic is how to say you’re sorry to the people you care about. When people say “nothing’s perfect”, deep down inside, they do expect it to be perfect. It’s one of those subconscious psychological statements people make when they think they are indeed, perfect. But, for a lack of a better term, “nothing’s perfect”, so eventually someone somewhere will have to say sorry.
Saying sorry and really meaning it can be a difficult thing to do. It’s sometimes admitting and accepting that you’re wrong. It also forces you into a state of humility that you may not be comfortable with. But, there are times you say sorry when you don’t think you did anything wrong, but it’s to make the other person feel better so you can both move on. Sometimes, saying sorry creates a power imbalance that actually ruins relationships. And sometimes, a simple apology can save the entire relationship.
Apologizing takes practice because there are right and wrong ways to do it. It’s also not the most pleasant experience because you are dealing with such an uncertainty whether the other person will forgive you. It’s as comfortable as walking around in wet socks all day. I probably had to say sorry to my kids a few hundred times already this week alone. But, little kids are easy. It’s the big people who are much harder. Ask my husband, I’m horrible at saying sorry to him. I’ve only ever done it about 2 times in 20 years (sorry).
So, if you have someone you need to apologize to or you know you’re going to get in trouble again (e.g. husbands, basically you are always sorry for something, right?), here are some tips and references on how to help you get through this.
SAY IT TO THEIR FACE/WRITE IT IN A NOTE AND HAND DELIVER
Do NOT apologize over text if you can seriously help it. It’s the easiest way to get it all wrong. You slap together an ‘I’m sorry’ and you get to move on with your life. That person is left wondering HOW you’re saying it in real life. Is it the true “I am so sorry” or the “meh sorry”. You can quickly move on from a situation with doing it person. Or, if you’re like me who just cannot deal with confrontation, write in a note/mail it/leave it on their desk. An apology needs to be more personal than not and this is the first step to making it more effective.
FOLLOW THIS RECIPE
Follow this recipe here to a tee. You should never blindly say you’re sorry. You need to describe exactly what you are sorry for otherwise, you will never resolve the tension. The person getting the apology needs to know that you understand what you did to hurt/upset them. This recipe is basically showing you how to take full responsibility for what it is you are saying sorry for.
Keep in mind that sometimes you can also tell the other person how they hurt you and you, too. However, never expect an apology in return. Apologies just don’t work that way. Yet, I personally think it’s common sense that the person who got the apology should also think about whether they played a part in how this person has been behaving to warrant giving out an apology.
Example: If you yelled at your husband and you say you’re sorry for yelling but you got frustrated because he wasn’t listening to you again. He needs to know that you yelled because he was being a bad listener for the hundredth time. Then, he, too, should acknowledge that he was the reason for your yelling and apologize.
“When ‘but’ is tagged on to an apology,” she wrote, it’s an excuse that counters the sincerity of the original message. The best apologies are short and don’t include explanations that can undo them.
NEVER EXPECT AN APOLOGY IN RETURN
This is something to keep in mind on your end when you’ve done your apologizing. Sometimes, the other party knows what they’ve done but they aren’t ready to apologize. Sometimes, they never will apologize. So, you have to know that you’ve done your part and whether you can move on from it is really between the people in the situation. It’ll feel unfair and you’ll be hurt too, but know that you’re the “bigger” person for stepping up to the place and apologizing for what you did. You can’t control what other people can’t see about themselves, so you’ll have to just move on.
NEVER SAY “BUT” & KEEP IT SHORT
Us women love long winded explanations. The more you apologize, the worst it gets. Keep it short and concise. Read it back to yourself and see if you’d like the same apology. Don’t drag it on on your end. It only ends up with more hurt and angry feelings.
I am sorry I hurt your feelings when I failed to show up for our coffee date. I know that I am irresponsible with time and will try harder to never hurt you like this again. Please accept my apology and another chance to treat you to coffee. Should I fail to show up or show up late, you will have every right to be angry at me and pee on my shoes forever. But, you’re also mean when you don’t want to snuggle with me. Let me know if we can work this out.
See how quickly that apology got real back in 0-60 seconds? Try not to do that.
First, you have to decide if you want to be sorry at all. Is this relationship worth saving? You shouldn’t throw around apologies when you don’t think you are wrong. You also should never be sorry for being human, especially if someone is just outright attacking you for having a rough time in life.
Once you feel like you want to save a relationship, the apology needs to last. It needs to be heartfelt. It needs to be really real. You should never say “I’m sorry you feel that way” because it makes it seem like that person is being crazy for feeling things. If you feel like you need to say that, you aren’t ready to apologize. You have to accept that you are still angry and should wait until you can speak with humility.
The focus of an apology should be on what the offender has said or done, not on the person’s reaction to it. Saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” shifts the focus away from the person who is supposedly apologizing and turns “I’m sorry” into “I’m not really sorry at all,” the psychologist wrote.
There’s a whole psychological basis behind an apology which you can read here so you know I didn’t totally make this up. Or, you can watch this video by our favorite, Brendon Burchard, #mcm. See how he makes even the hardest situations totally manageable?
Have you had to say you’re sorry? How did you go about doing it? Share your stories with us!