Apologizing can feel awkward and weirdly childlike. You’re forced to be vulnerable and small and admit to your mistake all at the same time. I’ve written once already about the book, Adulting (which I love), but I wanted to share another piece of advice from the Friend section. It’s Step 315: Learn to Apologize:
“Realize precisely what you have done wrong. You can’t apologize in a meaningful way unless you actually regret what has happened. So tumble that in your mind. What did you do, what should you have done, what would you have done if you could do it again?…You just need to be as humble as possible while at the same time not making excuses. You can explain yourself, but don’t try to excuse yourself… Be sincere in your regret.”
And then, of course, Oprah’s people also have some good advice:
“An apology includes real repair work: not just saying “I’m sorry.” Often there will be nothing tangible to repair; hearts and relationships are broken more often than physical objects. In such cases, your efforts should focus on restoring the other person’s dignity. The question “What else do you want me to do?” can start this process. If you ask it sincerely, really listen to the answer and act on the other party’s suggestions, you’ll be honoring their feelings, perspective and experience. The knowledge that one is heard and valued has incredible healing power; it can mend even seemingly irreparable wounds.”
It’s hard to apologize, but it’s helpful to remember that most of the time, the other person is grateful and generally relieved. And then you can go get ice cream together! Or hug it out.
Image by Max Wanger.