There have been so many times when we have said or done things in a lighter tone or when we were not aware what our words would sound like, and that ends up hurting someone. It is a knee jerk reaction to apologize, but what is important in order to maintain the relationship, is to have an effective apology. If your apology sounds fake, then it is very likely that it will worsen the relationship.
Here are 5 research based tips for offering a good apology:
Express regret: When you say something flippant like ‘I’m sorry if you were hurt’, to the person, it sounds like ‘you were not supposed to be hurt or be so touchy about something so tiny, but I’ll still apologize out of pity’. Therefore, expressing proper regret is crucial. Explain how you feel bad for what you did, and how you would be affected if this impacted the relationship.
Explain what went wrong: When you explain what went wrong, it helps the person to see that you did not do it out of malice. However, be careful not to take a justifying tone. Explaining the cause does not mean that you are absolved from the responsibility of hurting someone. Instead, this helps them to see you in a kinder light and makes it easy to forgive.
Acknowledge responsibility: Admit that you made a mistake. Say that you shouldn’t have said or done that, or you should have considered the hurtful consequences before you did this. This shows that you have really given a thought to this and are to apologizing just to get it out of the way. This helps the person to see that you are read to bear the responsibility of the hurt you caused and then to change it.
Declaration of repentance: Your repentance should indicate a change of mind, where you can show that now you think significantly differently, compared to when you did the hurtful act. This shows to the person that you have changed your stance and there is no reason not to forgive you. something on the lines of ‘while I did not think much of it then,
I see now that this is important to you’.
Offer of repair: Lastly, the person you hurt needs to know that you are serious enough to take whatever steps our needed to repair your mistake. Therefore, think through it and make an offer of repair which would show that you really care about the person and want to make up for the error.