A running joke about Canadians is our eagerness to apologize. By the way, I’m sorry if that stereotype offended anyone. It was never meant to – oh. Now I’m trying to make excuses. Sorry.
Apologies within a relationship can take on a whole new challenge. Often we find ourselves apologizing “that you feel that way”, or, “I’m sorry, but you always….” How often do these work in straightening out disagreements? Unfortunately, not often. In fact, they can make things much worse. There are some things to keep in mind when apologizing (after being able to get in touch with your own emotions, and cool down if needed).
1. Understand and take responsibility of the nature of your wrongdoing as it relates to your relationship and acknowledge the specific violation without blaming or excuses. “I’m sorry that I forgot to pick up your parcel. I know that it was important for you to get it tonight. ”
2. It’s crucial that you empathize with the emotional hurt or affect the offence had on the individual in a genuine, understanding way. “I could imagine you felt angry and frustrated about it.” An apology without this step can come across empty, or not coming from the heart.
3. Learn for the mistake and communicate how or what you will try to do differently next time. “I know that I should have allowed more time at the end of my day to get it done for you, and next time I will make a reminder for myself.” This isn’t an excuse, this is simply telling the other person that you know what went wrong and how you will strive for a better result next time. It helps the other person to feel safe trusting you next time.
4. Ask for forgiveness, but remember that patience is required for this step. Perhaps the other person is not ready to let go of the hurt easily and may need more time to process. That’s ok. That’s their journey – you have done your part!