You are wrong. Dead wrong and you know it. Those words you said or that thing you did has gotten you in trouble yet again. Fortunately, most people are pretty generous with their forgiveness. Everyone realizes that they aren’t perfect, and most people will show the grace that they hope they will receive when they blow it. But you will never know how great people can be if you don’t apologize. Also, you will likely never learn anything. Most of the great lessons of life we pick up in our failures. Being really bad at apologizing will make your relationships weaker and your life less enjoyable. Not sure if you are a bad apologizer? Take a look at the following ways that you may be ruining your apology:
1)Don’t Admit What You Did Wrong
For an apology to work, you have to be specific. You did something wrong, and you need to own it clearly. How many times have you been on the receiving end of this apology:
Your friend: I’m sorry.
You: Sorry for what?
Your friend: I don’t know, I’m just sorry you are mad.
You: I hope you get hit by a bus.
Ok, you are probably not that aggressive in your response, but it makes you crazy doesn’t it? If you have messed up, own it clearly. Don’t make excuses. Your friend will trust you again more quickly when they know exactly what it is that you apologizing for.
2)Admit What Everyone Else Did Wrong
The quickest way to ruin an apology is to list off all the wrong doings of others as you stumble around trying to take ownership for what you did. It’s relationally toxic to blame your words or actions on other people. It doesn’t matter what she said first, you shouldn’t have said what you said. It feels better to hide our mistakes in a pile of other mistakes made by other people. But the purpose of an apology isn’t to make you feel better. It’s to be honest, and to own the brokenness that you have caused.
3)Apologize Even When You Aren’t Wrong
If you want to make your words meaningless, start apologizing even when you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s so tempting to try to keep the peace, and sometimes, saying I’m sorry even though you didn’t say or do anything wrong, will get your spouse, parent, or friend off of your back. Owning everything that goes wrong in a relationship is a good way to create a monster. If you apologize for things that others have done, they will eventually start blaming you for all of their other problems as well.
Honestly owning and admitting things that you have done wrong can be incredibly powerful. Many relationships that seemed past the breaking point have recovered thanks to that sort of courage and honesty. If you have something to apologize for, do it today, and do it well. Your relationships will be better off for it.