The Ins and Outs of Apologizing

Let’s be honest. It can be difficult to accept when we’re wrong. But nobody is perfect and being wrong sometimes is part of being human. When we make a mistake, it’s important to accept it and apologize.

When we don’t apologize for our negative actions, other people can feel hurt, disappointed or upset. That doesn’t make it any easier to say sorry in tough situations. 

Here are some of the key ingredients to an apology that is genuine and kind:

Start by understanding the problem.

Before you apologize, it is okay to stop and think about what happened. Ask yourself what you did or said that may have affected someone else.

Consider how the other person feels.

Being compassionate means being concerned about how another person feels. Our actions can affect the feelings of those around us, so in order to be compassionate, we need to understand why and how our actions have upset someone.

“Sorry” is a full sentence. It shouldn’t end in “but” or “if.”

Part of taking responsibility for our actions means accepting we are wrong. To make a genuine apology, we can’t place blame on others for how they feel. 

Spot the difference:

“I’m sorry if you felt hurt by what I said.”

“I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Which apology sounds more genuine?

A good apology doesn’t end there. Try coming up with a solution to the problem.

Let’s say you’ve just apologized for fighting with a sibling because you both want to watch TV at the same time. Good for you! You’ve done the hard part and said you’re sorry. But now what? 

Think about ways you might be able to contribute to a solution. Offer to let them choose what show to watch first, or find something you both like as a compromise. 

And remember: apologizing is not about accepting a defeat—it’s about making amends. There’s nothing wrong with saying sorry. In fact, admitting we are wrong and apologizing can show that we are confident, responsible and self-aware. Saying sorry can lead to better relationships with peers, friends and family members.

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