During stressful times, anyone can accidentally say or do something to hurt someone’s feelings.
The good news is there are some simple things you can do to repair the relationship.
The most effective way is to apologize.
Below, I will share with you how to apologize and mean it.
Make it genuine.
Anyone can spot a backhanded apology and it will do more harm than good.
For example, “If I offended you, I apologize.” is a fake apology: It’s like stealing someone’s wallet, and saying, “I’m sorry if you felt you were inconvenienced.”
A genuine apology is aimed solely at taking responsibility, not implying that the other person is somehow at fault.
Know what you’re apologizing for.
“I’m sorry” means absolutely nothing if you don’t know what you are apologizing for.
If you don’t already know, ask the person.
There’s a huge difference between saying, “I’m sorry,” and, “I’m sorry I made fun of your new haircut. It was insensitive of me, and I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Don’t make excuses.
Excuses push the blame onto someone or something else, and it weakens the apology.
Sure, a brief explanation may help understanding, but if you are busy explaining why you did what you did, it will start to sound like you aren’t apologizing at all.
Back what you say with what you do.
An apology is an admittance of wrong-doing, not a free pass to do it again.
In fact, if you can’t commit to changing the action or words you’re apologizing for, don’t apologize.
“Sorry I kept you waiting so long,” will be a hollow and ineffective apology if you keep doing it.
You’re better off thanking the other person, “Thanks for your patience, I appreciate it.” and taking it from there.
Apologize for them, not for you.
The mistake many people make when apologizing is that they expect forgiveness.
This is not about you; it’s about the person you hurt.
Some people will behave indifferently, some will behave coldly, and some will react in a downright hostile way.
You can’t get angry or defensive.
If the person declines your apology, you have to let it go and realize it’s their prerogative.
If you apologized sincerely, you have done all you can do.