An apology is never easy. And whoever crafted textbook ways of doing it, clearly never thought of the millions of scenarios in which apologies would be made and worries would be said. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to saying you’re sorry, and likewise, no rulebook to follow to ensure that it sounds sincere. But in the modern world, apologising is starting to get more common.
Because everyone is making mistakes? Not only that but people have begun to take ownership of their actions and put things into perspective. However, what if you realise today that you erred years ago and now wish to say you are sorry, genuinely sorry? We tell you how to go about it.
The steps to the perfect apology
This depends upon the mistake in question. If the error is a minor one and hasn’t done much damage to the person’s beliefs and feelings, it may well be good to acknowledge it and move on. However, these days, celebrities, the media, and elders are realising that at some point in time they may have been biased. They may have criticised certain minorities, been homophobic and even let their biases cloud their rational thinking. Years later, when society is starting to follow the ‘live and let live’ principle and encouraging people of all walks of life to live freely, realisation dawns that their bias may have been incorrect and they now wish to apologise.
What makes for a good apology?
While the recipe for the perfect sorry is rarely simple, here’s are the base ingredients.
Knowing when to apologise is as important as the apology itself. So often you have witnessed things on the internet blow up simply because an apology was made rather late, or was made only once a significant number of people began opposing what was said.
If you believe a discussion could merit a solution or middle ground, go for it. But if you deep inside are aware of the hurt you have caused a section of society or a person with your remarks, there is no time better than the present to make things right.
Actions do speak louder than words. But when words are spoken from the heart, they do go a long way. Simply acknowledging that you are wrong would put the other person at ease. Brian Wind, a Tennessee-based psychologist says in an article to Mic “People need to know you truly understand how your actions were hurtful to feel your sincerity. If you're apologizing after a long time, acknowledge it. Explain why it took you that amount of time to apologize, as sometimes a person may be more upset with the fact that you didn't see a need to apologize rather than the action that hurt them.”
Not necessarily in those words. While saying you are apologetic, don’t put yourself first, but instead, put the person you hurt and their feelings above yours. Draft your apology in a way that shows them you wish to make amends. Saying it in person would go a long way.
Wyatt Fisher, a Colorado-based psychologist says to Mic “Tell them you'd like to make a sincere apology and ask them when they would be able to listen to one. If they agree, it's highly unlikely making a sincere apology in the way outlined above would re-offend them. Saying sorry is a step in the direction towards healing any lingering resentment the other person may have towards you.”
Accept their response
The third most important aspect of an apology is to accept what the other person says. Don’t expect that at the end of your sorry you will be met with a hug and tears and everything will be okay in the blink of an eye. Accept that now the other person needs to decide if they wish to be okay with it or not.
When it comes to an apology, it rarely stops there. You need to promise the other person that you have come to realise what your words did and now wish to better things. In an age where celebrities post an Instagram story apologising for hurting someone’s sentiments, you need to be the voice of reason and actually go the extra mile to better what you hurt.
Whether your will to make things better goes to plan or isn’t accepted by the other person, apologising is essential. In the present day, cancel culture is something people have become wary of and thus, remarks are often taken out of context and blown out of proportion. Knowing when not to apologise is as important as knowing when to. And with the right acceptance and knowledge, you can make your sorry sound sincere.