7 STEPS TO A GENUINE APOLOGY
7 Steps to a Genuine Apology – We all make mistakes, and when we do, many times we end up hurting someone. That’s when it’s time for us to say we’re sorry. However, just saying the words isn’t enough. Hopefully, we don’t end up in the doghouse very often. But when we do, these 7 Steps to a Genuine Apology will hopefully get you out of the doghouse and lead to fewer transgressions.
1. Recognize your mistake and understand what you did wrong
An apology doesn’t mean much if we’re just saying, “I’m sorry,” to get out of trouble with someone we care about. It’s essential to identify the issue so we can make an appropriate apology. Otherwise, we’re just looking for quick forgiveness.
2. Be sincere
A sincere apology shows in the presentation. Our words, body language, and how the apology is delivered all factor into its sincerity. The best apologies are offered in person whenever possible. Sometimes, though, the mistake is one that needs to be conveyed to a broader public that may be difficult to reach in person. These types of apologies need to consider every word used to be deemed sincere and genuine.
Face to face, we can ensure a sincere apology by looking directly at the person. Whatever we say, we should include the phrases “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” The people we hurt need to hear those words. Avoid the words “if” and “but” since those words lead to placing the blame elsewhere.
3. Don’t delay
Once we realize our mistake, it’s important to apologize to the offended person as soon as we can. Yes, apologies can be awkward, and they should be, so we avoid repeating the same mistake. We’ve harmed someone, damaged a relationship. But delaying an apology can cause more damage, making the injured party think we’re ignoring the issue. Let the healing begin and swiftly!
4. Take ownership
Admitting to a mistake is often looked at as a reflection of our character. But what’s more revealing is how we handle making an apology. When we take ownership of a mistake, we avoid placing blame elsewhere. Blaming the weather, lack of sleep, or someone else involved in the circumstances makes for a weak apology.
5. Correct the behavior
Our apology should include the steps we’re going to take to prevent future mistakes. The circumstance will dictate what we need to do. For chronic lateness, we might start using an alarm or a reminder on our calendar. If we’ve spoken hurtful words in anger, we may need to practice new techniques for stressful situations or even seek therapy. In the business world, correcting behavior may include a change in policy or training.
When we apologize to someone, they will want to express their feelings about the situation. Let them talk. Listen to their feedback. We may learn something new about the situation or other ways to correct it.
7. Don’t expect a return apology
It’s not a competition. We don’t apologize to someone so they apologize to us. It’s not a race to see who apologizes first. A genuine apology is about accepting that we’ve made an error, and then going forth and mending the damage done.
While following these steps may not lead to immediate forgiveness, it starts the healing. It’s also important to remember that we’re not always at fault. We shouldn’t apologize unless we mean it, and the mistake is truly our own. Open up a dialogue if there is confusion about an issue. Identify the concerns. Once the concerns have been discussed, if we find we’ve harmed someone, begin preparing that apology.