Executing the Perfect Apology

There's nothing worse than being wrong! Ugh... I hate it myself! But there comes a time when we are wrong that we must apologize. We've all been caught with our hand in the cookie jar and no matter if its telling a fib about eating dessert before dinner or being unfaithful the short version to that story is someone was affected. Having to admit when you've made an error takes both courage, honesty, and a willingness to mend your mistake. Did you hurt someone in the past? Have you offended someone recently? Are you doing it now?

Although your spouse or intimate partner's issue may not seem rational or even fair its important to validate their feelings. Your efforts to be diplomatic may prove to better diffuse the disagreement and keep matters from escalating. So let's speak on why apologies matter, why they're so difficult, the consequences of NOT apologizing, and how to apologize with grace and sincerity.

First, by definition an apology is a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure!

I personally have been given the old one-two trick of receiving an apology without actually being apologized to. For example someone said I'm sorry that you're upset about what I said. I remember my brow immediately wrinkling and bearing a look of absolute confusion. I also felt offended. And I remember thinking to myself that wasn't an apology that was a backhanded I'm sorry. The unfortunate side is that when someone does this they are only acknowledging that you're upset however it doesn't acknowledge the actual offense inflicted. The more appropriate response would have been I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings.

To be the person issuing the apology they may feel humiliated, frustrated, or even guilty for causing harm. Oftentimes, the natural reaction is to be dismissive, defensive, or complain. From there we minimize, deny, or blame. It's natural defense mechanism to SHAME! But in order to truly experience forgiveness humility should be your armor.

But Stephanie how do I apologize without being a jerk? Follow these three steps...

Swallow your Pride. When you apologize... Are you sincere? Is your request for forgiveness even reasonable? Is it fair? Do you come off that you expect to be forgiven or does it feel genuine? There is no room for pride in our lives. Don't allow your pride to interrupt the progress of reconciliation. The enemy of pride is humility. If your apology was in the hands of someone else, would you be proud to receive it?

Respond Appropriately. In short, there is one purpose... to solve the problem. You want to apologize for your role in the disagreement with the purpose of moving forward and resolving the problem. The art of apologizing is recognizing and being accountable, but sticking to the customer service of what brings about a resolution. Be ready to stick and move during this process because everyone is not amenable to resolution. Adjusting your temperament to accommodate the recipient is just like a temperature thermostat... sometimes its hot and sometimes its cold. Simply be prepared!

Be Sincere. You are not looking to put a band aid on cancer. If you intend to apologize accept that changing your behavior is the key to validating what you say. Don't apologize you're not ready to put our money where your mouth is!

Here are 10 Things to Consider When Giving/Receiving an Apology:

1. Don't say "I'm fine" when you're not!
2. Offer the same consideration you'd like to receive.
3. Take each other's feelings into consideration.
4. Remain focused on the main goal [the solution] and not your own feelings.
5. Look to offer customer service to your partner. You're not absolving them of responsibility, but focusing on controlling your actions so as not to illicit additional tension.
6. Lip Service -  Offer no blanketed apologies (i.e. "I said I'm sorry, what else do you want me to do."). Be aware of what you're even apologizing for.
7. Ask yourself Is this really worth fighting over? Regardless if you feel its trivial or otherwise. Perhaps your partner finds it important. Keep in mind that your relational stresses are perceived differently. While you may feel that your partner is stubborn and unhelpful they may feel that you're demanding and authoritative. Stay in the present.
8. No silent treatment! If it has been more than 24 hours since you've last spoken to your husband/wife or if the two of you exchanges pleasantries only (i.e. hello, goodbye). It's gone on too long.
9. Talk to your spouse in such a way that if your children were listening on the other side of the door that they wouldn't be concerned.
10. All is NOT fair in Love & War! No one has the right to be intentionally offensive. Meter your words. Someone else is listening.

Have more questions, comments, or concerns. Drop your comment(s) below.