Why is apologizing so hard? No one I know loves to apologize. No one I know is constantly looking for a reason to apologize. It’s hard, we don’t like it and many of us try to avoid it even when it is clearly needed in a situation and we are the ones who have to give an apology. So why is it so challenging? There are several possibilities to consider and the first is that an apology requires us to be vulnerable and transparent. In order to give an effective apology, we have to be able to take the three necessary steps that must be included and each of them require us take off our masks and put our defensive armour down.1. Say “I am sorry”
The first step of a legitimate apology is saying “I am sorry.” Very simple, but I have known people who never let these three words out of their mouths – and I bet you know these individuals as well. Sure, when their temper clears or the offensive behavior has passed, they may begin telling jokes or whistling and this is everyone’s cue that the tension is over and to move on. However, no verbal acknowledgement of the pain caused by the behavior ever comes. The message is that everyone else needs to move on and act as if nothing happened. Right.
By being able to specifically address the offense, it shows the other person that you clearly understand what you have done and why your behavior was hurtful. It also allows us to hear ourselves say what we did. We often tend to repeat our mistakes until we learn otherwise, and you just might grow embarrassed of apologizing for the same thing over and over – and then be ready for real lasting change to come.
3. Say “Will you forgive me?”
This is a crucial part of an effective apology. By asking, you are recognizing that you need forgiveness and we all do! This step also allows the other person to forgive out of his/her own free will. They are making the conscience decision to release you from the act that has been committed.
These three steps help wipe the slate clean between people and is essential to any relationship. Parents should be teaching their children to give apologies using these steps. I challenge all parents to recognize moments when your children deserve an apology from you and GIVE IT! It won’t undermine your parental leadership, but strengthen it. The best teaching moments with our children come by role modeling the behaviors we want to see in them. Of course apologies must be frequent within any marriage but that goes without needing much discussion – I hope