People and Places

The fine art of apologising

Why saying sorry is an act of courage and not a sign of weakness

There’s a saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick”. The same goes for holding onto a grudge or not apologising for something you did wrong. Ignoring feelings of guilt might seem like the easier option, but until we apologise, they will always be there, festering inside us, affecting how we go about our daily lives.

Even when you know what you said or did was wrong, why can it be so difficult to admit it? The truth is, apologising takes courage. It puts us in a vulnerable position, opening us up to embarrassment and shame. It’s no wonder we try to avoid these emotions by doing nothing at all.

But how about if an apology was considered the first option rather than a sheepish last resort? It’s time to change our perception of apologies. Rather than a sign of weakness, saying sorry can be
the ultimate example of confidence, transparency, and accountability. Can you already feel the lightness in how this makes you feel?

Admitting our shortcomings is an essential part of becoming a better human, so we might as well become really good at it. After deep diving into research on how to give the best, most heartfelt apology, I’ve put together a handful of tips to help you apologise effectively. I hope you find them helpful.

Be authentic in your apology

To show authenticity when apologising, it’s essential to be humble and genuine in your remorse. If you regret what you said/did, and feel embarrassed or ashamed, say so. Everyone messes up. We’re human, after all. Be bold in taking responsibility for your offence. Further, when we can accept our own wrongdoings, we become much better at accepting others. Even if you aren’t entirely sure why someone is upset with you, but it’s apparent that you have hurt them, taking ownership of the hurt is the first step for opening the dialogue for both of you.

Explain if you must, but no excuses

There’s nothing worse than an apology that’s littered with excuses. Sometimes, the best strategy is to say there is no excuse at all. If you feel an explanation is necessary, keep it simple and non-defensive. Try to avoid evasive or vague language. Using the phrases “I’m sorry” or “I apologise” should be offered first and foremost. Never downplay these words in an apology, no matter how big or small.

Take a moment to listen to the other person’s perspective

One you have offered your apology, it’s essential to listen to the person (or people) you have wronged. This is about their experience and emotions, and not yours. Hold no judgement and allow them space to speak. Sometimes, the receiver might not be ready to share, and that’s okay.

Offer to make amends or changes for the future

An apology should be a personal statement, one that reassures the person it won’t happen again. If there are practical ways to improve the situation, offer your help; otherwise, explain the steps you will take to make positive changes. This is an integral part of the process, as it shows sincerity and that you care enough to ensure the mistake will not happen again.

Forgive yourself for what you said or did

Even if the other person is not ready to forgive you yet, you do have the power to forgive yourself. This will help you to feel a sense of relief and peace, which in turn, will enable you to act confidently and make better choices. Instead of focusing on what you did wrong, show yourself compassion and focus on how you can grow from this situation. Treat yourself like somebody
you love dearly.

Words by: Eleanor Cripps

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