The Right and Wrong Way to Apologize

The Wrong Way to Apologize:

Blame.

One of the worst things you can do blame someone else for your own misconduct, misbehavior, wrongdoing or unprofessionalism.

Minimize.

When you downplay your hurtful actions, you send a message that the effects of your behavior on others aren’t important to you.

Excuse.

When giving an apology, many people are tempted to explain their actions. Even if it’s well intended, this approach is likely to come off sounding like an excuse and will only weaken your apology.

The Right Way to Apologize:

Acknowledge.

Be the first to admit that you did something wrong; don’t deny or rebut. When you apologize, you’re acknowledging that you engaged in unacceptable behavior.

Accept.

When you accept full responsibility for the situation, you restore dignity to the person you hurt. This can begin the healing process and shut down any victim-blaming (by others or by the victim themselves).Express.

Acknowledging your wrongdoing is a good beginning, but the heart of an apology is expressing the thoughts I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me. A sincere apology is itself a demonstration that you’re taking responsibility for your actions.

Why It Matters

Apologizing the right way, when you have hurt someone unnecessarily, by mistake or on purpose, is the first step in the path toward reconciliation.

If you don’t apologize at all or if you can’t be bothered to apologize the right way, you can do lasting damage to your relationships, your reputation, your career opportunities, and your effectiveness. Most important, it lowers the respect in which others hold you and, likely, in which you hold yourself.

We all make mistakes and we all hurt others. When it happens, a sincere and well-thought-out apology is always the best first step in recovering your integrity.