Apologies are our most effective communication and relationship building tool.
The problem is apologies are also the most over-used, under-used, the most misused, and abused communication and relationship building tool.
As a co-dependent, I over-apologized. I took responsibility for things that were not mine and apologized for them. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t appropriate.
Others times we don’t apologize because we feel ashamed or embarrassed, we fear repercussions and conflict, so we avoid apologizing. This will often lead to other problems and issues between people, not least of which include trust and respect.
An apology can also be used as a weapon, turning the apology around to gaslight or blame the other person. “I’m sorry you got upset when I said that to you.” – or “I’m sorry, but I only did that because you made me angry.”
A lot of people give generic apologies or think the apology simply means saying “sorry” and moving on.
A true apology contains theses elements:
- The expression of regret or apology- I apologize/I am sorry
- Specific details – I knew you needed the information in a timely manner and I didn’t give it to you within a reasonable timeframe
- Statement of Restitution – In the future, I will ensure I get the information to you quickly and communicate if I am not able to follow through.
- Action – showing the person, through our actions, we are changing the behavior
There is nothing more healing for our relationships than a real apology. We all make mistakes, but owning our part in a situation, being accountable and taking action to change, is the most healing of all tools in our communication and relationship with others.