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Apologies bring us face-to-face with the fact that we have something to apologize for, triggering a sense of guilt and shame.
Saying sorry puts one’s shameful behavior out there. That’s why transgressors often view an apology as threatening to their self-image and consequently hesitate to offer one.
When people focus on their core values, they seem to become more willing to sincerely apologize.
By understanding the many barriers to an apology— the indifference to another’s pain or the fraying of a relationship—we can glimpse what’s holding us back from saying “I’m sorry” in a particular situation.
From there, we have the opportunity to change course and let the healing begin.
A high-quality apology has three elements:
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The only time to apologize is when you’re genuinely remorseful.
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In order to show your sincerity when apologizing, you must be honest and vulnerable. That can lead to the cultivation of meaningful relationships. It can also lead to rejection, which is what makes it so scary.
When you apologize, be willing to share openly and candidly, allowing emotions to flow freely, so that you can be fully seen.
Take responsibility for your actions and admit your mistakes or transgressions. State them out loud. Yes, it will be scary. It will feel shameful for a time. But it is worth it.
When done rightly, apologies can heal relationships, dissolve anger and hatred, and mend broken bonds. The problem is that we don’t apologize very well, and end up stirring further anger.
A perfect apology has to be without ego, an expression of genuine regret, and the assumption of full responsibility: I am so sorry that you were hurt, this accident is completely my fault, and I really was going too fast, and too carelessly.
A botched or half-hearted apology taints the act of apologising, not leaving space for any further apology to arise from the other person.
An apology is one of the most profound interactions two human beings can have with one another.
Research by Lazare and others suggests effective apologies—meaning those that are accepted by ...
When people make the common mistake of saying they’re sorry too quickly, they can miss a crucial step towards reconciliation.
If someone commits a serious transgression, it’s best to apologize only after the victim has had a chance to “yell and vent” and fully process the betrayal.
Apologies that come too late, like those that come too early, are likely to fail; the sweet spot is somewhere between the two.
You should be more focused on the other person, making sure they really believe that you get what you did wrong. Without that emphasis on the other person’s emotional state—and the promise of change—an apology sounds insincere.