06 March 2012 in , , , ,

A Quick Guide to Apologies

MARCH 6, 2012

I rarely have to apologize because I'm perfect and never do anything that warrants an apology! (Insert sarcastic font, if it existed.)  I'm definitely no communication expert, but throughout my years of apologizing I have noticed things. Things which I will share with you.

For those of you who screw up from time to time pay attention; a proper apology goes a long way. Firstly, I have a general rule which I try to follow fairly rigorously. If I'm not actually sorry, I don't apologize. I don't see how my insincere apology is suppose to make things better. I'm lying! Which makes things worse.

Now let's get to the nitty gritty. 

I'm sorry, but...
Take but out of that equation and you might get somewhere. The but is a huge no no. You should omit it at all costs. Three letters cancel out the main attraction the, I'm sorry. Nothing positive can possibly come after the but. You're sorry, but it's still their fault. That's not the way it's supposed to work. Let me demonstrate:

"I'm sorry, I really didn't mean it like that. Let me explain."

OR

"I'm sorry, that's not what I meant; but if you hadn't brought it up we wouldn't be having this conversation."

The but creates a backhanded apology; it's quite clear. See the difference?  If you don't, you're a lost cause so don't waste your time reading further.  Keep it simple, say I'm sorry and state why. 

I'm sorry that's the way you feel...
You might be sorry that's the way they feel, but if they feel that way because of you, own up to it. From my experience there are two sentences there:

1. "I'm sorry."
2. "That's the way you feel."

This is easy peasy stuff. If you're looking to resolve matters with a constructive conversation start with the first one. If however, you're feeling argumentative and want to get into a fight please feel free to go with number two. Better yet combine them. Clearly when dealing with an apology aggravating statements should be kept to, non-existent. Therefore, I'd suggest steering clear of pointing out that you're right and the other person, and their feelings, are wrong.

Wide open arms
Apologizing isn't always an easy thing to do and therefore it carries with it a set of expectations. The person who was wronged expects an apology. Those who have screwed up come to the realization that they have to apologize. Ok. This apology usually comes with the expectation that everything will be forgiven once they muster out the I'm sorry. Hopefully they'll leave out the but. Clearly they should be welcomed with open arms, a drink, a laugh, maybe a little dance and the wrongdoing should be forgotten in it's entirety. Stop it people who screw up! Don't make it about you. If you screwed up allow the forgiver some space, don't just expect their forgiveness and a clean slate immediately. Sometimes you might not be forgiven. That doesn't mean you shouldn't apologize. Forgivers, remember that this space is supposed to be used for reflection on the apology and  to forgive; not to torture the person who is apologizing with silent treatment. 

If these tips fail you, I'm sorry I'm not an expert. However, refer to the Formal Apology Template above, it might be better equipped to help you out.

the outspoken introvert 

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