By JAMIE WILKINSON-FRANKS
“I am sorry!”
Three words that are supposed to make everything better. That’s the theory, right?
These words may be said in response to making a mess or breaking something at home, hurting someone’s feelings or forgetting something important.
The intent of these words is to let the other person involved know that you genuinely accept responsibility in the wrongdoing and that you did not intend to hurt their feelings.
The latter part may be the most important. Although this may be the intent, most of us have experienced receiving apologies that were insincere and giving apologies that we did not mean.
With so many ineffective and insincere apologies out there, how do we make a genuine, sincere “I’m sorry.”
There are three important characteristics of a good apology: tone, stating specifically what you are apologizing for and identifying a way that you will try to change this in the future.
The tone of the apology conveys the sincerity or genuineness of what is being said. When trying to express a sincere apology, do not use sarcasm or passive aggressive statements. Think of the difference between “I am sorry” vs. “I said I was sorry”. Be sure to make this a statement, not a question by watching your tone.
Secondly, state specifically what you are apology for. The focus needs to be on what “I” did and not on anyone else.
For instance, “I was running around the house and ran into the table, knocking over the vase.” When the focus is shifted to what others did, it becomes blaming. This also allows you to state exactly what you are truly sorry for.
This can be tricky. For instance, “I’m sorry that your feelings are hurt. I did mean what I said about a new computer not being in our budget.”
Lastly, what are you going to try and do differently in the future? This helps to express that you don’t want to make the same mistake or will come to a compromise.
“Maybe we can take the money that we would spend eating lunch out each week and put it toward a computer.”
If you are not able to successfully implement these characteristics, then you may not be ready to give a sincere apology, so wait. No one wants an apology that is not real.
Wilkinson-Franks is a licensed independent social worker with JWF Counseling, Findlay. If there is a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.
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