Feel like you’ve been slighted, or perhaps you’ve wronged someone yourself? Saying sorry isn’t the hard part – accepting that you’ve some responsibility in the situation is a harder pill to swallow.
Proper apologies have three parts:
- What I did was wrong
- I feel bad that I hurt you
- How do I make this better?
Here’s some tips to approaching the big S:
- If you’re hoping for an apology and you don’t get one, what can you do? One of the main reasons we hope for an apology is to feel a sense of closure or resolution – we also often trust that an apology means an ‘offence’ won’t happen again. When the apology doesn’t come, it’s important to find an alternate way to move forward. Trying to provoke what you feel is a deserved apology rarely goes well, as essentially, you’re telling the other person they were wrong. Try being the one to take initiative and explain the impact their words or behaviour had on you, while stating that you’ve decided not to put further thought into it. Keep in mind that saying sorry is challenging for some people and they might be trying to show their regret through apologetic actions.
- What if you’re expected to apologise but you don’t really feel you have anything to apologise for? There's a difference between apologising for the impact you’ve had on someone and apologising for how they’re feeling. We can still be sorry for someone’s pain or misinterpretation, especially when we care about the relationship. Never use the word ‘but’ when apologising, as it negates everything you said before it. Simply saying ‘I’m so sorry you’re feeling hurt, it wasn’t my intention’ can go a long way.
- We all know the expression ‘forgive and forget’, is there truth to this? Why is forgiveness important? This is a very outdated way of thinking. We used to say that forgiveness was required, because we knew that to stay angry or frustrated is unhealthy. What we know now is that emotionally intelligent people don’t need to forgive – rather, they choose the meaning they give the situation and move forward in a way that frees their energy and headspace from things that aren’t in their control – in the spirt of looking after their own wellbeing. It requires discipline, but it’s a skill that can be learnt.
- Can you move on from a situation without an apology? It’s possible to move on from situations, relationships and environments without an apology. Focus on your own wellbeing and mental health and be clear about the consequences for you if you remain stuck in the waiting place, expecting an apology that’s unlikely to come. Identify the benefits of letting go. Some people find it helpful to set a timeframe, such as ‘I’m going to let myself be upset for another week and then I’m not going to give this anymore of my energy or emotion’. Remind yourself that what feels big now will pass. How significant will this lack of apology feel in two years’ time?
Take some time to think about why you’re upset, reflect on the scenario that went before and the ideal outcome you’d like to see play out.
– The Coach Place Global
Image by @brettjordan
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