5 Simple Steps to Apologizing
A dad asked his daughter to give a handful of her M&Ms to her brother from the big bag she’d bought. She shook her head. Prompted again, her answer remained the same. Disparagingly, her dad said, “Why are you so selfish?”
Head down, she dropped the bag on her brother’s lap and fled to her room.
It’s no secret that he judged and insulted her. Understandably, he may be reluctant to face it, to push his pride or ego aside. Yet apologizing is the way to regain the lost ground of trust and respect. Approaching her with empathy and compassion, he can liberate her hurt and mend the rift. It’s is worth its weight in gold. Gold that can be deposited in the emotional bank account.
The 5 steps with dialogue cues:
Acknowledge your offense Take responsibility and ownership for what you did or failed to do. Look the person you hurt in the eye, take her hand, and disclose your mistake. Be specific and honest.
- “I said you were selfish.”
- “I was unkind to you.”
- “I insulted you.”
- “I judged you.”
Provide an explanation Give your reason, but don’t defend yourself, cast blame or make excuses. It’s helpful to state the circumstance, motivation and emotions for the other person to understand.
- “I wanted you share your big bag of candy.”
- “I thought it would be easy.”
- “They were yours to share or not. I didn’t think about it being your choice.”
- “I say the wrong thing to you more often than I appreciate you.”
Express remorse Say “I am sorry” for the action or inaction to the person you hurt. Whether it was intentional or not, you want to let them know you’re sorry, contrite, and don’t want this to come between you. Be clear on exactly what it is you are sorry for.
- “I am sorry I called you selfish.”
- “You deserve so much more from me.”
- “Oh, how I wish I hadn’t said that.”
- “I regret insulting you and hurting you.”
Make amends. Restore your relationship to obliviate grudges and honor the person you wronged. This is as humbling as it is warming. It’s impossible to take back what you said, but you can assuage the pain you caused.
- “I should not have judged you: you really are quite generous.”
- “What can I do to make it up to you?”
- “Would you allow me to do something special for you?”
- “I promise not to say mean things to you ever again.”
Ask for forgiveness. This is the big thing that restores your relationship. You are asking the person you hurt to let you off the hook so you can rebuild respect, kindness and trust between you.
- “I know I’m asking a lot. Would you forgive me?”
- “I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’d like to earn it.”
- “You mean so much to me, could you find it in your heart to let your anger and hurt go?
- “May I have another chance to show you the respect and love you deserve? Will you please forgive me?”
And there you have it, five easy steps to regaining peace, trust and respect.