Nobody’s perfect. Inevitably we all end up doing something that hurts or offends someone we care about, often unintentionally. When we’re in the position of having to own up to a mistake and apologize to the person we’ve hurt, it’s important to know the right way to go about making amends. An apology that comes off as insincere or halfhearted can make matters worse. To apologize in a way that communicates you really mean it and helps to mend your relationship, you should:
1. Clearly apologize: Don’t beat around the bush. It can feel embarrassing and awkward to admit when you’ve been at fault, but leading off with a direct and unambiguous “I’m sorry” is essential to conveying genuine regret.
2. Acknowledge what you did wrong: Be specific about what you’re apologizing for. A vague “sorry for what happened” will sound evasive and convey the sense that you’re not really owning up. It may even lead the other person to think that you don’t really understand what you did wrong. If you spell out what you did that caused them harm, they’ll know that you’ve reflected on it. Avoid the temptation to use an explanation of what happened to excuse yourself—take clear responsibility for your actions.
3. Empathize and express regret: Putting yourself in the shoes of the person you offended or hurt is an important step in truly understanding the impact of what you did. Let them know that you have thought about how they must have felt or what difficulties you’ve caused them, and let them know you truly regret it. (Again, no excuses! A sincere apology focuses on how they feel, not how you feel.)
4. When appropriate and possible, fix it: Did you put a dent in your friend’s car when you borrowed it? Break a favorite vase? Sometimes our mistakes have an obvious path for making amends. If that’s the case, do what you can to repair what you broke. If that’s not possible, outline how you intend to change your behavior so you don’t make the same error again—and then stick to your word.
5. Ask for forgiveness: Delivering an apology does not mean that you are owed immediate forgiveness. Be direct and humble in asking to be forgiven, but be prepared to wait until your friend, family member, or coworker has time to work through their feelings. Putting pressure on someone to grant you absolution when they’re not ready makes the apology about erasing your guilt rather than making reparations for your error—and will make the recipient of your apology doubt that you really mean it.
Apologies aren’t easy, but an effective one can help you preserve and strengthen the relationships that are important to you. Some of the best apologies are accompanied by flowers, because we all know that flowers express our feelings more deeply than words alone. Rachel Cho Floral Design is your expert source for beautifully arranged, high-quality flowers on any occasion when you feel that words are not enough to show what you mean. Contact us today for help with all your floral needs, big or small.