So today, I am going to talk about why a true apology includes so much more than a “I am sorry” or saying “I apologize…”
All in all, a lot of people are confused about what is included in a true apology.
Some people do not apologize at all and just become defensive. This is like saying, “My Relationship Repair Counter is closed.” This is not good.
In other cases, some people do apologize but they are missing certain aspects to a truly effective repair.
For example, I have some clients who will make a behavioral change after someone complains about their behavior. But they will not verbally say, “I’m sorry, I will change and improve my behavior.” So, they did repair the behavior problem, but did not do verbal acknowledgment. This is also not good.
A true, sincere apology includes saying, “In addition to my apologizing to you, what can I do to make this better between us?”
Many times, an apology includes offering to listen. For example, you could say “Do you need to talk about how I hurt you so that you can feel understood?”
I have noticed that so many people will say I am sorry, but then when the wounded party starts to talk about their hurt or angry feelings, the person who just said they were sorry gets defensive. (Not good)
In a few cases, I have noticed myself doing this as well. My spouse is frustrated about something I did or didn’t do, and then when he tells me he is upset I say, “I’m sorry.” Not lying, a part of me just wants to get this over with so we can be on good terms again. ? I know you can relate…
But instead of me saying “I’m sorry” causing him to immediately stop and say, “I accept your apology, we’re good” he keeps talking about what I did wrong (because he’s understandably still hurt and still does not trust that I fully understand him yet).
Sometimes this is frustrating. Normally I take it in stride and recognize that he needs me to listen as part of my apology/ relationship repair attempt.
When I don’t take it in stride and perhaps am feeling tired or less patient, I have been known to blurt out, “I already said I was sorry!!!” Right? It’s like, I said I was sorry, stop beating me up about it!
When you give an exasperated “I already said I was sorry” – this response is Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The person is not beating you up about it, more than likely.
They need to talk about their hurt. They probably need more validation. For example, they probably need you to say “I can understand why this hurt you or angered you. I get it.” And “I am willing to repair it with you.” and “I will listen to what’s on your mind, and I want to find out what I can do resolve this with you.”
Now, adding in these kinds of comments with a listening ear is a full apology. The kind of apology that says, “My Relationship Repair Counter” is really, and truly open.
So, remember, an apology will likely need to include many parts for it to truly be an effective Relationship Repair including:
- “I am sorry”
- “I can understand why this hurt you”
- “I am willing to listen to you talk about why it hurt you until you feel better”
- “I want to know if there is any behavioral action that I can take to help resolve your complaint”
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