Apologize with Impact Everyone makes mistakes in a relationship. It is easy to allay blame for aspects of a disagreement or misunderstanding. The greatest challenge facing many relationships is not how they weather the rough waters, but how they navigate into the harbor of forgiveness. Apologies make continuation possible and knowing how to apologize allows relationships, even troubled ones, to grow into sweeter and more rewarding endeavors. The Structure Thinking two words will encapsulate the entire need for resolution dilutes damage done by wronging someone.
Partners must feel valued, heard and understood. The traditional apology only brings restoration of a relationship one step closer. It does not exist on an island. Let's look at the steps in apologizing.
1. "I'm sorry" - These words must be said because they get the ball rolling. Traditionally, even the smallest children who have to apologize know it starts with saying they are sorry. This opens the door to discussion of what happened and what is to come next.
2. "I know this is how I hurt you" - Though it may seem like a small thing, acknowledging the hurt caused by one's actions demonstrates an understanding of the partner, their feelings and the individual's active role in wronging them.
The harmed party will will also have a chance for clarification. Listening during this step proves important.
3. "I will strive not to wrong you this way again" - A since offer to change gives a tangible next step. While it will be a challenge, the offering shows the hurt person the seriousness of the action.
4. "I'm going to make this right by" - Everyone harmed by someone wants to feel as though they are valued. Willingness to emotionally compensate them builds on the foundation established in the prior steps. An authentic and meaningful offer must be made. This not a bribe or a quick way to resolve the situation.
5. "Will you please forgive me" - Asking for forgiveness is the final step because it places the ball into the court of the person who was harmed. This can be scary. What if they decide not to grant forgiveness? This is part of the risk of being in a relationship. The other person must decide how things will proceed.
While each step builds on each other, the conversation must move slowly. Rushing any of them could prolong the disagreement, bring about similar fights or shatter the relationship by individuals not feeling valued or heard.
Taking the time, though hard, will be rewarded.
The steps provide a good framework, but they are not a magical formula. Each step of the apology must possess a critical component, authenticity. No apology, no matter how longed for, will never restore a relationship if it is not performed from a place of honesty. The person apologizing must be sincere from saying they are sorry to asking for forgiveness. An apology or section of an apology may proceed without sincerity, but it will never forge a pact between those involved.
An apology is an agreement. An agreement about how important partners are to each other, how a single wrong cannot destroy their bond and how going forward they will seek to treat each other better than before. These are hard agreements to fulfill. This is why being able to accept one's role in the relationship and admitting when they have fallen short brings people closer. So it is always worth the effort.