Whether it’s a parent-child bond, a friendship, a professional partnership or romantic companionship, one of the hardest things do in any relationship is to admit guilt and apologize. Yet, with those two simple words, “I’m sorry,” you can strengthen any bond.
So, why is it so hard for us to apologize in the first place?
According to experts, there are many reasons as to why saying “I’m sorry” is a challenge. One of the most common reasons is the “vulnerability factor.” We’re afraid that admitting our faults is a sign of weakness, so we don’t apologize. We may also withhold an apology as a way to win an argument or because we fear that our apologies will be rejected.
Fortunately, though saying “I’m sorry” can be tough, psychologists point out that by doing so we can increase the healthiness of our relationships. By apologizing we show how much we care for the other person. And admitting our faults and taking responsibility for our actions makes us seem more loyal and trustworthy.
How to Apologize, Mindfully
When giving a sincere apology, it’s important to keep the following things in mind.
1. From the heart. A true apology sometimes means going beyond a simple “I’m sorry.” Be specific and soul-bearing. If we can’t verbalize our feelings we should consider writing them.
2. A reminder. When preparing our apologies it’s important to come up with a list explaining why this person means so much to us. It will serve as a reminder as to why we should apologize and it will remind the other person of their significance to our lives.
3. A brighter future. We should conclude our apologies by showing that we’ve learned from our mistakes. By coming up with a few things we’re willing to change to avoid conflict and hurt feelings in the future we will illustrate our dedication to the relationship.
3 Wrong Ways to Say Sorry
Research shows that there are three basic types of apologies that we should avoid. They are listed below.
1. The tactical apology. when we offer an apology as a strategic maneuver instead of a heartfelt confession. We commonly use this apology to reject responsibility and move on no matter how hurt the other person may be (i.e. “I’m sorry if you’re upset.”).
2. The formalistic apology. when we offer to apologize after an authority figure has informed us to (i.e. when parents tell their children to apologize or when bosses tell their employees to apologize).
3. The explanation apology. when we offer an apology while simultaneously making excuses for our actions (i.e. “I’m sorry for what I did, but…”).
Remember, owning up to our mistakes and admitting that we’ve done wrong is never easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Feel the burden of guilt and pride lift from your shoulders!