When was the last time you apologized for something? Has it been more than a day or two? If so, you might want to rethink your approach.
In a good 48 hour period, maybe I make 10 mistakes. In a not-so-good 48 hour period, I can easily approach the triple digits. But let me share a secret with you: You can work harder and harder at avoiding mistakes–or you can learn to get good at apologizing. For an apology to be effective, it needs three components:
You state, simply and clearly, what you did that gave offense.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“I’m sorry I came in so late last night.”
Nothing fancy, nothing wordy. No sarcasm, no eye rolling. Sincerity is enough. You don’t need to go begging, just set aside your ego for a moment and own your mistake.
You verbally recognize the hurt you caused the other person.
“I realize you feel threatened when I raise my voice.”
“I know you worry about me when I don’t check in.”
This shows you’re seeing things from the other person’s point-of-view. You’re not saying all the issues in the relationship are your fault–just this particular instance, this particular time.
You let the other person know you’re working on it.
This isn’t defending yourself or excusing yourself. It’s a simple statement of intention to do better.
“Just so you know, I signed up for a gym membership so I’ll have a better stress outlet.”
“Let me make it up to you. I asked my sister to watch the baby so I can take you to dinner, just the two of us.”
And if you’re someone who really struggles with apologizing, consider this: You’re not fooling anyone. If you left up the toilet seat, your partner knows you left up the toilet seat. Lying about it only adds insult to injury. People don’t mistrust individuals who make mistakes. People mistrust individuals who make mistakes–then try to cover them up.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.