Apologizing can at times be difficult and at other times it can be extremely difficult! When we apologize to someone, we are admitting that we have done something wrong, made an error, hurt someone or something. We’ve made a mistake. We have to swallow our pride and be reminded of our imperfections and what it is to be human.
One of the aspects that can make apologizing scary is the fear of our image being weakened or lessened after an apology. Will we lose face to those we have apologized to and appear somehow “less” of a person? Will people hold us in less esteem if we admit our faults?
To apologize therefore takes courage and the ability to let down our defenses. Knowing that our apology will be effective and mean something to the individuals involved can help you through some of these tougher moments.
To best communicate an apology you will want to convey the regret that you feel for the wrong you have done. A good way to start can be to state and summarize the incident for which you are apologizing, and to sincerely convey and acknowledge the hurt you have caused the individual. This is not the time to place judgement on the other person's feelings or be critical of their reaction to the event. Empathizing and expressing that you understand how this person must be feeling because of your actions, will communicate that you care about the other person and that you are sincere in understanding what you did wrong.
It is also essential to take responsibility and be accountable for what you did. While it can be much easier to come up with excuses and justifications, or to blame someone else or something, it is important that you fully accept your responsibility for the actions and their consequences. It is important to remember that in taking responsibility for your part of the situation, you are not taking on any other person's wrong-doing or mistakes, only your own.
An apology should also put into words what you have learned from the incident and your commitment to not let it happen again. Depending on the circumstances, it may also be appropriate to provide restitution for what was hurt or damaged.
Above all, for an effective apology, it is paramount that your apology be sincere and heartfelt. An apology that comes from the heart allows an opportunity for you and the other person(s) involved to move forward and grow in your relationship.