Friday, March 2, 2007

Art and Anatomy of Apology

So often in life people apologize for things without really meaning it. In fact, in our culture we are so used to saying "sorry" for every little thing, that it has somewhat lost its meaning.

To make a meaningful apology one has to make sure to include all the parts.....the anatomy.

The first part of the apology is where you state that you are sorry and adjunct to that, exactly what it is you are sorry for. For example:

I am sorry for breaking your vase

Clear and to the point. But that is really not enough. You also have to acknowledge that you understand that it was wrong, inappropriate, hurtful, or whatever.

It was very irresponsible of me

Next you need to offer a way to make it better. A compensation. This will not fix the wrong, but does at least show that you do care about the other person's feelings.

Let me try to replace it or fix it for you

And finally, you need to finish up with a statement of intent to not repeat the offense. This is the way to show that you truly understand the impact of what you did and that you have enough regard and respect for the person to not want to ever cause that discomfort again.

I will be much more careful in the future

When all these parts are put together with sincerity and eloquence, the apology is much more heartfelt and it is received much more readily. It is those things that make it an art.


Desiree said...

Well this makes sense! Sometimes we may truly be sorry but our apology comes out flimsy and the other party has no clue how you really feel. This is a wonderful breakdown of an apology! Awesome and informative post!

Anonymous said...

I whole-heartedly agree!

Patience said...

So many times an apology just isn't enough! The damage has been done, the deed can't be undone! But if the guilty party apologizes, and then goes on to remedy the situation as best as possible, acknowledges that he will try to never allow it to happen again, then at least everyone may be able to move on.

Once a sincere apology is rendered, I believe it is the responsibility of the recipient to accept that apology. Of course accepting an apology may not automatically mean that trust will soon - or ever! - be regained!!

Betty said...

I was on the receiving end of a sincere apology once, and I'll never forget it. A man at work wrote his apology in a Hallmark card. I was so honored by that.

When I apologize, lately I've been adding a question at the end: "What can I do to make it up to you?" That, of course, is dangerous when offered to a 3rd grader ("I want you to buy me a Wii!!!") but it can be really effective with adults.


Smalltown RN said...

Very well put Iris something we all need to think about when making an apology.

Rhea said...

Let me try that.

"I am sorry for not visiting your blog before now. It was truly irresponsible of me. To make it up to you, I will subscribe to your blog via Bloglines and I will drop by more often."

Ahh, that feels better.

Anonymous said...

What do you do when no apology is ever offered? How do I let go of my anger? How do I forgive a person who won't say I'm sorry? I know I need to but I can't seem to. This person hurt me so badly, down to my soul and I can't seem to let go of my anger and my disappointment.

takefive said...

To deb.

Let me give you two cents' advice.

1. Anger is a natural emotion. Don't have to pretend a nice people by holding it inside you. Go to the safe room and scream to let out your anger. If not treated, the anger is likely to turn into rage.

2. How about this saying? "Life is too short to waste time hating people".