Have you ever given someone the apology you thought they were looking for, and you felt like it just wasn't good enough? Well first, we can't leave out the possibility that it just plain wasn't. Above all, apologies should be sincere. But sometimes, we just plain don't mean it. Sometimes, we are simply trying to be the "bigger person," and giving someone else what it seems they need. Whatever the situation, we all find ourselves having to deliver apologies, weather great or small, on a regular basis. In this blog, we are going to talk about the art of the apology.
6 Things to Consider When Apologizing:
First and foremost, we must consider our audience. We can all agree that everyone is different, and different people have different needs. If you've come to a place where you feel that you need to humbly apologize for something, the hope is that you are also humble enough to apologize in a way that might best work for the recipient of your apology. Do they want to see remorse? Would they like you to offer some kind of recompense or to make up for what you've done? Or would they like it direct, short, and to the point, with no extra words? Try some different apology methodology out on your loved ones, and see for yourself which ones get the best responses.
Secondly, we must consider the trespass. Be sure that your apology is appropriate for the wrong done. You wouldn't grovel and cry if you were apologizing for spilling someone's drink. That would just earn you a reputation for being dramatic. Likewise, you also would not give a simple, "Sorry bout that," or "I'm sorry, okay? Geesh!" For cheating on your spouse. The gravity and seriousness of the apology should match the gravity and seriousness of the error.
Third, consider the relationship. If you're apologizing to family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and especially co-worker's or bosses, they should all look different, and be completely appropriate for the relationship.
Fourth, consider the mode of apology, and it's appropriateness. Don't apologize for something truly hurtful by text, don't call someone to apologize for having already taken too much of their time (you should be able to see the irony here), and do NOT show up in person to apologize to an ex that has filed a restraining order against you. There is a proper mode of apology for all situations. For many, you have options. But there are certainly times when some of these options are out of the question.
Fifth, don't consider these okay: Some things that you should never do when apologizing are to take it back by using the word "but" in the same sentence as the apology - Leave this word out completely. Also, shifting blame is a big no-no. It nulls the apology as much as your big "but" does. You cannot say, "I apologize for eating your burrito. You told me you weren't hungry, so you made it seem like you didn't want it." If you truly want to apologize for this, you can say, "I apologize for eating your burrito. I should've asked if you wanted it before just taking it." Lastly, any kind of low key shade is not okay. You can't apologize for misunderstanding someone while implying that it was because they're a terrible communicator. This just doesn't work.
The last thing I want you to remember while apologizing is to lower your expectations (or better yet, lose them all together). You are doing this out of love, yes? Love for others, love for God, and love for doing the right thing. If they don't immediately forgive you, or worse, they react negatively to your apology, it's got to be okay. You're apologizing to apologize. Not to be forgiven. Don't try and force someone else to react the way you think they should. Their reaction is their decision. Your decision was to apologize. Stand by it, regardless of the recipient's behavior.
The main message that You should receive from this blog is that apologies are not that simple. They are an act of love, even if you did the wrong thing to begin with. Your apology should be well thought out, loving, absolutely free, and above all, considerate.
Finally, I leave you with this. If you want to reap forgiveness, sow seeds of forgiveness. "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matt. 6:14, NIV).
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