Everyone does something that requires an apology to acknowledge a wrong and move forward. Make every effort to extend an apology with integrity, no matter what extenuating circumstances contributed to the situation, affirms executive and relationship coach Dave Kaiser, Ph.D., writing for The Good Men Project. Your acceptance of responsibility and desire to fix the problem will identify you as a person of integrity.
Your Mess, Your Responsibility
You made a promise and didn’t keep it, or you said something that damaged feelings. Whatever the problem is between you and your friend, a well-crafted apology might repair the relationship. Take full responsibility for what you did or didn’t do and do so as soon as you realize that you were in the wrong, advises life coach Martha Beck, Ph.D., on Oprah.com. You can explain your actions, but that doesn’t excuse your actions.
No “Ifs” or “Buts”
Avoid using “if” or “but" in your apology, advises clinical psychologist Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., on the Psychology Today website. Using “if” or “but” diminishes your apology, making it sound half-hearted. Keep your apology simple and succinct -- just the facts. Acknowledge that your actions affected your friend and could have created negative emotions such as anger, frustration and anxiety. Do not discuss your friend’s behavior in relation to your actions with comments such as, "Your attitude made me angry" or "I wouldn't have done what I did if you hadn't done that." Those words only serve to shift the blame.
Remorse and Repair
Express remorse and detail how you will prevent a recurrence, suggests Beck. Find some way to fix or reduce the consequences of your actions as quickly as possible. Ask how you might make amends if you aren’t sure what to do, such as paying for your friend’s meal if you didn’t show up at the restaurant or letting a teacher know that you were responsible when a class project wasn't completed on time. Tell your friend that you will avoid making promises you can’t keep so she feels that she can rely on your word.
Forgiveness is Optional
Never make your friend feel guilty or insinuate that your friend must forgive you because you apologized, explains Burgo. It might take a while for your friend to settle down and feel forgiving. Acknowledge that some hurts are easier to forgive and you are willing to accept that he might not ever forgive you. Thank him for listening to you and leave the outcome of your friendship in his hands. It’s possible that he will quickly accept and forgive, but that shouldn’t motivate your apology. Your motivation should be to acknowledge and repair the wrong.
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