How many ways to say sorry do you use? Whether it’s accidentally walking into someone while distracted on your phone or forgetting a special occasion, most of us will have to say sorry at some point. But did you know that some apologies are more successful than others? Here’s how to maximize your chances of forgiveness with different ways to say sorry…
Okay, so this one is pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t get this right! You need to make it clear that you are genuinely sorry, and that you value the relationship. Use an authentic tone of voice (no gritted teeth here, please!) and simple language. “I apologize” or “I’m sorry” got much better results in studies than more elaborate ways to say sorry.
Look at the person you are apologizing to. Take a deep breath and focus on the person completely. Avoid the urge to admire your new shoes, glance at your watch or look out of the window…being attentive will make the other person much more receptive to your apology.
Everyone has heard at least one. You are expecting an apology, almost get one…and then the person gets defensive, blames you and you feel angrier than ever. An apology is accepting responsibility, so leave any ‘but’s or ‘if’s out of it. If you can’t apologize without shifting some of the blame, don’t apologize at all.
Done something really bad? Start thinking outside the box. If a verbal apology isn’t likely to be enough, or you feel really bad, find a gift that expresses your remorse. Something that you’ve put thought into, like a mix-tape of songs, tickets to a cheap concert she’ll love or a meal that you both love will be much more appreciated than flowers from around the corner. If all else fails, a giant cake with an icing message is a great idea.
If you can’t see someone face to face to apologize quickly, do it using another medium. This can also be a great solution if you are worried that further contact might lead to a confrontation, or awkwardness. Avoid texts and emails, which are easily misconstrued, and send a pretty card or notelet with an apology in instead. It’ll give the recipient something to admire, as well as time to calm down and forgive you.
For a while, every self-help guru was advising asking for what you wanted straight out. An apology went from being something that makes us feel better, and fixes issues, to a demand for forgiveness. There’s no prize for guessing what people thought! Leave off any demands for a reply or forgiveness.
Everyone bigs themselves up for meetings and confrontations by running through how they are planning for it to go – but there is no easy way of knowing how someone will react. Be prepared for any reaction, and remain calm. Don’t argue, and listen if the person has something to say. It might be painful, but hopefully it’ll be constructive.
Remember what you are apologizing for, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Forgotten her birthday? Put it in your phone diary, with an alert. Ruined her favorite dress? Be extra careful in future, or don’t borrow her clothes. And if it’s something hugely serious, like stealing her partner? Remember that the friendship might not be the same again, and that you might need to use a few ways to say sorry – and even demonstrate that you won’t do it again.
Nobody likes to have to say sorry, but if you use these ways to say sorry, you stand the best chance of being forgiven. Then you can move on, and hopefully have a stronger relationship to show for it! Do you have a special way to say sorry? Let me know!
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