The Art of Apologizing: Yes there is an Effective Way to Say You’re Sorry.
I am sorry to write this but I have my moments where I apologize and I don’t really mean it. Sometimes I just say I am sorry so the person in question will leave me alone and let me get on with my life. As I am a real functioning human being, my guess is that I am not the only one to feel this way.
In article from NYMAG published earlier this month, the method and ways to apologize were covered in detail. It was especially interesting that there is a website called SorryWatch that documents and analyzes public apologies. This website provides feedback on how effective apologies are.
The article also cites Dr. Beth Polin who believes apologies have one or more of the following six statements.
• An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
• An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
• An acknowledgment of responsibility.
• A declaration of repentance.
• An offer of repair.
• A request for forgiveness.
Dr Polin’s points are definitely on the mark. However, I am feel that apologies are in the same category as promises. You should never put yourself in to a situation, where you have to make too many.
I am from the archaic school of thought that states that we should not expect too much from others. If someone does something with a clear intention to harm me emotionally or physically, then I expect an apology and an offer to repair their actions. For example, I have had a few former landlords who owe me an apology as well as money. But if they are too proud, I will forgo the apology and gladly take their capital. But an apology would be a good start.
If we are going to apologize for something, then I think we should feel guilt. But feeling guilty is difficult because sometimes my senses are just too numb from my addiction to social media combined with the demands of my social and work life. Sometimes I actually did not do anything intentionally. It is as the old saying goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes, my actions directly or indirectly lead to someone else being inconvenienced. It was never my intention for this to happen but it did! Oops! But still an apology is necessary.
Then there are people who are so good at justifying their actions that they are incapable of understanding they did wrong. Rather than admitting guilt, they will fire back with how much is in the world because of them. They will never apologize and it when they do, you will have either forgiven them or have won the race into the afterlife.
Sometimes actions warrant an apology and sometimes the offended party just needs it. But if you find it difficult to crank out a good apology, the above-mentioned article has some good advice. A good start would be to follow it.