Reflecting through the Lenten season, I’m learning I need to apologize better. And maybe you do too. I don’t know. But if you’re looking for some ways to fine tune your apologies (because it’s not if you apologize that counts; it’s how you apologize), then check out how I plan to say “sorry” better.
- I’m going to admit I was or did wrong without excusing it in any way. I will own it. I’m not going to say, “If I did this or that…” or “If you think I offended you…” or “I know I said this, but…” Instead, I’m going to say, “I was wrong for offending you” or “I did this and shouldn’t have. It was wrong.” Then I’ll say, “I apologize.” Period.
- I will refuse to minimize my reason to apologize by offering general stats on how lots of other people do the same thing. I will recognize and acknowledge that the apology attaches to me and me only. I won’t ask other people committing similar offenses to share the load with me.
- I won’t delegitimize a person’s charge by explaining how whatever I did wouldn’t have bothered me or by suggesting I wouldn’t have taken it that way. If a person says they didn’t like something I said or did then it’s true. They didn’t like it. It hurt them. They were offended. It’s real. I need to apologize; no caveats allowed.
- I will apologize for the specific offense. I’m not going to avoid confronting the real reason I need to apologize by serving up some half-baked, watered down generic apology like “I’m sorry for being overbearing at times,” or “I apologize for letting my words get a way from me,” or “I’m sorry for messing up.” These can be fine introductions to a good apology as long as they’re followed by enough expressed detail of the offense so the person deserving the apology knows I know what I’m apologizing for.
- Another person will not have to pull an apology out of me after I recognize I need to apologize. Finding the courage and decency for me to apologize is not anyone else’s work. It’s mine.
- All apologies, as much as it’s possible, will be face to face, eye to eye.
What are some ways you could make your apologies better?