No one is perfect. We’re only human. And therefore, as difficult as it may be, the ability to admit our wrongs, accept responsibility for our actions, and ask for forgiveness is crucial to any healthy relationship. A careless comment, a missed appointment, showing up late for carpool – these are everyday occurrences that happen more than we’d like, and each warrants an honest apology.
Almost worse than no apology is the inauthentic apology. Think of the seemingly endless celebrity pleas following racist remarks, public outbursts, scandals or regrettable behavior caught on tape. Such carefully crafted PR statements often seem interchangeable – just swap out the name and unfortunate incident and you have your sound bite. Adverse reactions range from dismissive eye rolls to downright disgust at the emptiness of the attempt.
Paradoxically, a heartfelt apology can heal wounds and strengthen relationships. It’s how children recognize that their parents are fallible and, more importantly, trustworthy. Spouses and partners can clear the air and start again. Friendships survive lifetimes littered with mistakes because of sincere attempts at amends.
What are the pitfalls to dodge so we avoid sounding like a celebrity mouthpiece following a particularly cringe-worthy incident? Here are 5 sure-fire ways to screw up the act of apologizing:
Keeping these no-no’s in mind when it’s your turn for a bite of humble pie will ensure your apology is heartfelt and effective. This allows all parties to relinquish the past and move forward, aware of our own imperfections and pledging our commitment to try to do better.