We often react to our mistakes by blaming and accusing others, rather than by acknowledging what we’ve said or done and apologising. A sincere apology can prevent the emotional wake you leave behind, doing harm to others.

We often react to our mistakes by blaming and accusing others, rather than by acknowledging what we’ve said or done and apologising. Witness our behaviour on the roads and in parking lots!

Blaming others can be easier than seeing and admitting the error of our ways. Sometimes we are afraid to apologise in case the apology is not accepted. Often we expect other people to ‘know’ we’re sorry without our actually saying so.

When you cause hurt or upset, you create resentment. If you don’t apologise, the resentment may slowly disappear and the hurt will be forgotten. But when you accept responsibility for what you have said or done, and show that you regret the hurt you have caused, you can put things in perspective, clear the air properly, and move on.

Don’t…

- Don’t start by making excuses. You’re responsible for your actions and for their consequences and you need to show that you understand that.

- Don’t offer cheap apologies. Can you remember being told as a child, “Tell Auntie Mary that you’re sorry”? But you weren’t sorry and you apologised only because you had to. Some of us still apologise because we feel we should, not because we’re really sorry, and the apologies we offer are meaningless and cheap.

- Don’t invalidate the other person’s feelings with comments like ‘Come on; it wasn’t really that bad’.

- Don’t assume that simply saying ‘I’m sorry’ is enough. It isn’t.

Do…

- Do start by saying that you are truly sorry.

- Do show that you understand how you havecaused the upset. ‘I’m sorry I shouted at you. I shouldn’t have let my temper run away with me like that.’ When you admit a mistake and show that you understand where you went wrong, your apology has sincerity and you stand a much better chance of being forgiven.

- Do be patient. Hurt and resentment may not disappear the moment you offer your apology. Allow the other person to talk about why they feel hurt and listen without being defensive.

- Do be open to talking about what happened if the other person is willing to do so.

Making a sincere apology can be a simple process. It’s one we should use more often, rather than continuing blithely on, without regard for the damage we may be creating. As a boat moving through water leaves a wake behind it that can harm other boats, so each of leaves an emotional wake behind. A sincere apology can prevent your emotional wake doing harm.

Related posts

Leave a Reply