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A good apology can help you smooth out some rough spots on your relationships, particularly if you have deeply hurt someone you care about. Poorly done apologies, or worse, passive aggressive apologies, can do more harm than good. Here are the 5 easiest steps to ruin a good apology and what to say instead.

Start with “If”

When a person starts with an ‘if’ statement as they begin to apologize, watch out. They may think they’re being sincere, but they are really just lacking acknowledgement of their personal responsibility. This can look like:

  • “If I hurt you…”
  • “If you felt bad…”
  • “If you think…”
  • “If I made a mistake…”

Apologizing is not abdicating responsibility to someone else, it is owning up to what you did to make amends by saying “I’m sorry you were hurt.” It helps to be as specific as possible.

Apologize Publicly

An apology should be done after an offense. If a loved one was publicly embarrassed, you should apologize in front of everyone. If you had a private argument, go to them and apologize privately right away.

Wait to Be Ready

Forgiveness is the same as apologizing, in that, you cannot wait until you ‘feel’ like apologizing for a perceived wrong. That day will likely never come. The right thing to do is own up, say sorry, and ask their forgiveness right away. Waiting too long can make the apology seem insincere.

Get Annoyed About Apologizing

Some people get mad when they do something wrong and a friend calls them on it. It is human nature to protect your own best interests, which is why it takes humility to admit what you did. If you get annoyed about apologizing, it may irritate the other person even more and do more harm to the relationship. Ask yourself:

  • How would you like an apology?
  • What tone would you like your friend to use?
  • Would you forgive a friend who made you feel like you shouldn’t have had to apologize?

Make it About You

Nothing kills a good apology more than making it about you. The phrase people use now is ‘sorry, not sorry.’ Apologies are the time to take responsibility for what you did and get to a better place in the relationship. Don’t explain yourself to make the apology more effective, it may take the focus off what your friend or loved one needs to hear. The apology may be received less favorably as a result. Watch out for…

  • “I’m sorry I hurt you, but…”
  • “I never meant to hurt you, I was upset too…”
  • “I wanted to apologize, I was really upset about this other thing and you have no idea…”

Instead, there are some other things you might try to say that can be helpful. Offer gratitude and thanks for them receiving your apology and tell them you appreciate their willingness to listen. Allow the apology to stand on its own before sharing your story if you want it to stick.

Addiction recovery is all about making lifestyle changes that add up to living a fuller, better life. Part of that is learning to say ‘i’m sorry’ in a healthy way and apologize for harm done. We will help teach you how to apologize and learn tools to get clean and sober so you can live a better life. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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