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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Way to Apologize #2

6. "This is an explanation, not an excuse. There is no excuse."

Make amends. Think about what caused you to make the offense. Is it because you're a little too laid back about being on time, or remembering important dates? Is it because you tend to react instantly to certain comments, without pausing to consider an alternative point of view? Is it because you are unhappy with your life, and you unknowingly take it out on others? Find the underlying problem, describe it to the person (as an explanation, not an excuse), and tell them what you intend to do to rectify that problem so that you never repeat this mistake again:

* "I snapped at you because I've been so stressed out with work lately, and it's selfish of me to take it out on you. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to cut down my hours to X per week. I really think it'll help me unwind, and help us spend more quality time together."

* "I've been distant and cold because I get paranoid that you're going to walk out on me because I don't have a job. But that's a terrible thing to do.

7. Express your appreciation for the role they play in your life, emphasizing that you do not want to jeopardize or damage the relationship. This is the time to briefly recount what has created and sustained the bond over time and tell loved ones that they are indeed loved. Describe what your life would be missing without their trust and their company.

8. Ask if they will give you a chance to make up for what you did wrong. Insist on proving to them that you have learned from your mistake, and that you will take action to change and grow as a result, if they will let you. Make a clear request for forgiveness and wait for their answer. This gives the injured party the well deserved "power" in determining the outcome of the situation.

9. Be patient. If an apology is not accepted, thank them for hearing you out and leave the door open for if they wish to reconcile later. (E.g. "I understand you're still upset about it, but thanks for giving me the chance to apologize. If you ever change your mind, please give me a call.") If you are lucky enough for your apology to be accepted, avoid the temptation to throw in a few excuses at the end. Instead, have a transition planned out beforehand for what you can do to solidify the clean slate (e.g. "Let's go get some coffee and catch up. It'll be my treat. I miss knowing what you're up to.").

10. Stick to your word. This is the most important step. A true apology entails a resolution, and you have to carry out your promise in order for the apology to be sincere and complete. Otherwise, your apologies will lose their meaning, and trust may disappear beyond the point of no return. Follow through.

Following this tips

* One on one.

If you can, pull the person aside so that you can apologize while you're alone. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of other people influencing the person's decision, but it will also make you a little less nervous. However, if you insulted the person publicly and made him/her lose face, your apology is much more effective if done publicly.

* Use relaxed and humble body language. Keeping your arms crossed or pointing fingers will put the other person on the defensive.

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