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The Art and Science of Apologizing

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/02/how-to-apologize/470457/

theatlantic.com

The Art and Science of Apologizing
Amy Ebesu Hubbard, the study's lead author and the communicology department chair at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, said the findings suggest that apologies function in several ways. "Showing remorse and seeking forgiveness are only part of the story," she said.

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An apology

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 an offended party—all tend to share a set of underlying features.

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Timing

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.

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Assuring the victim

Assure the victim that the bad behavior won’t happen again.

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.

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Overdoing apologies

Apologies also have a law of diminishing returns, and overdoing it can make each individual apology feel less sincere. 

If you apologize too frequently to someone, it becomes background noise. 

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Be sincere

The only time to apologize is when you’re genuinely remorseful. 

Avoid any apology that is forced. The person you are apologizing to will pick up on your ...

Be honest and vulnerable

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.

Admit fault

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.

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6 Components of a good apology

  1. Expression of regret
  2. Explanation of what went wrong
  3. Acknowledgment of responsibility
  4. Declaration of repentance
  5. Offer of repair
  6. Request for forgiveness

Communicate Effectively And Sincerely

The content of an apology is only half the battle. The delivery matters as well. If you mumble, avert eye contact, or stand in the corner with your arms crossed, it won’t matter what you say. 

No matter how much damage was done, a sincere apology restores faith.

The Courage To Apologize

Saying you’re sorry is uncomfortable. It can be hard to admit your shortcomings and acknowledge your mistakes. But taking responsibility is the key to restoring trust.

Apologies are not about right and wrong

They're about taking responsibility for unintentionally (or even intentionally) hurting someone emotionally or physically.

You apologize less because of you and your c...