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Anatomy of an Apology
NoInk | 10 October 2017
Believe it or not, saying sorry doesn't come naturally to everyone. But just because they're not good in saying or showing it doesn't mean they shouldn’t at least try. But not all situations are as easy-going, especially if not addressed well and promptly.
Here are some reminders about the art of apologizing.
Know what you're apologizing for.
If you don’t know where to start, start by saying sorry for the most obvious thing. Often, we know what we did. It doesn’t matter if we want to admit it out loud, but deep inside, we know.
Next, apologize for what your offense could’ve implied. Sometimes it’s not just what you did, but what it meant as well.
For example, you were late in picking up your gf. She gets upset. Why? For one thing, because you were late. But ask yourself why is it important for you to be on time. Maybe you guys were going to a family affair and it would not look good on your image if you were late. Maybe it was a work dinner she couldn't afford to miss. Maybe it was because she got all dolled up for you and wanted to be fresh when you got there.
There are many accompanying reasons why someone gets upset, and you need to be sorry for those too, not just the trigger.
The apology isn’t for you, it’s for the other person.
Many people tell themselves they’re not ready to apologize yet and they’ll do so when they’re ready. It could be because they don’t feel sorry, or they’re embarrassed, or they don’t know how or where to start.
But one thing to remember is that when you’ve offended someone, the apology isn’t for you, it’s for the other person. On that note, you don’t apologize when it’s convenient for you, you don’t do it the way you would want it done, etc. The consideration should be on the other.
If you think about it, why should it be on the offender’s terms while the person aggrieved is left to feel attacked and hanging?
Say it, even if you don’t mean it—yet.
Like I said, some people just need time—to realize the harm done, to let their actions sink in, or to feel sorry for it. But the thing with apologies is that even if you say it when you don’t mean it yet, the time will come when you will, and it’ll be easier to make amends and let it go.
If you wait until you’re ready (which might not come), you risk missing that window of opportunity when it will matter most. And it’ll be more difficult to rectify the situation.
We’re not defined by one action or one mistake. But a series of actions, and what you do when you make mistakes will definitely mold your character. Knowing how to apologize is a life skill, and one everybody needs learn to grow relationships and grow themselves.