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The Art of the Apology

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 crime, but because of its effects on someone, usually someone you say you care about.

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The Art of the Apology

The Art of the Apology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/fixing-families/201811/the-art-the-apology

psychologytoday.com

1

Key Idea

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 crime, but because of its effects on someone, usually someone you say you care about.

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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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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 ...

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.

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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A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

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 beha...

The Chance to Move Forward

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.

How to Make a Good Apology

A high-quality apology has three elements:

  1. It accepts responsibility for the wrong and doesn’t even hint that outside forces, or the victim, caused the offender to do what they did.
  2. It’s unqualified. If the apology contains a “but,” it fails. There’s time later—after the injury has had time to heal—to bring up any qualifications that might be relevant to future interactions.
  3. It offers to make amends to avoid the transgression in the future.
Causing unintentional harm

We all cause harm to our partner and the intimacy between us. We make mistakes that are foolish and unintentional and sometimes launch attacks on purpose.

When you wound another, apologi...

How to give an apology

A good apology takes two people: the giver and the receiver. An apology that heals is based on kindness, generosity, and compassion. 

The recipient accepts it with grace and, in turn, offers forgiveness. Without forgiveness, it cannot heal.

The mindful apology in practice
  • Repair: An apology that rebuilds intimacy should have three parts: you need to own the mistake, and then you need to repair the damage. Lastly, you need to vow to improve.
  • Forgive:  If you have been hurt, you may never completely forget, but you can choose to forgive. To decide to forgive means that you don't relive something that belongs to the past.
  • Begin again: Unfinished business will accumulate. Let go of the small and the large wounds, so they don't pile up. 
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.

Resentments Build

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Consider Legal Entanglements

In some situations, an apology can equate to an admission of guilt. If there are any concerns about the repercussions of an apology, you may want to consult with your legal department before making it.

However, if you messed up and the results are catastrophic, it's important to own the mistake and accept the consequences. If you try and shift the blame, someone else might pay, and others may lose respect for you. 

Don't Assume Fault that Isn't Yours

If you are wrongly blamed for a mistake, make your case and speak up for yourself. 

You may be tempted to cover for others, and while helping someone else out of a tough spot may seem noble, this could eventually evolve into someone using you as a doormat, or escaping responsibility for repeated mistakes.

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Unoriginal expressions used so frequently that they've actually lost meaning like  "out-of-the-box thinking" could reveal a lack of respect for the listener.

Avoid metaphors completely or use original ones. If that's too hard, tweak the wording of clichés to make them less cliché-ish.

Prolixity

Using big, impressive sounding words rather than smaller, common ones can leave listeners with the impression that you're pompous and pretentious.

The fix, in this case, is a big dose of humility. 

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Focus on what you two share, and make your unique bond the best it can be.

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Show that you care by doing little things, even if they're ridiculous.

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