How to Make a Meaningful Apology

What makes an apology meaningful? (or, what is a “good” apology?).

A meaningful apology  includes:

  • Intentionality….the apology is given intentionally and with awareness of the reason for it
  • Genuine commitment to the follow-through or repair plan, including a commitment to change the behaviour that brought on the apology
  • Unconditional … the word BUT is not part of a meaningful apology

Parent—a meaningful apology: I can see that I hurt your feelings when I yelled at you just now. I am sorry I yelled and I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I am going to work really hard on controlling my feelings in a better way so that I do not yell so much. How about if we snuggle here for a few minutes before you go back outside?

Parent—a conditional apology: I can see that I hurt your feelings when I yelled at you just now. I am sorry I yelled and I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I am going to work really hard on controlling my feelings in a better way so that I do not yell so much BUT, I would not have to do this if you would just listen to me the first time I ask you to do something….. How about if we snuggle here for a few minutes before you go back outside?

What are the different feelings each apology triggers?

The addition of 1 little word changes everything!

The trick is to separate the apology from the behavioural intervention. Apologize now, freely and without condition then later, in a connected moment, have a conversation about “listening when I ask you the first time”. It is ok to address the behaviour, just not with the apology!

What are the benefits of a meaningful apology?

  • Builds confidence and trust
  • Relieves feelings of distress for both
  • Increases empathy, on both sides
  • Models courage and responsibility
  • Allows you both to move forward
  • Brings peace to the situation
  • Reduces conflict and disagreement
  • Gets you into the smart part of your brain
  • Problem solving can happen once the connection is restored
  • Helps us to re-connect and heal a “relationship injury”


Comments

2 Responses to “How to Make a Meaningful Apology”

  1. Melodie says:

    This is really good for everyone to read about!

  2. Omkalthoum says:

    Thank you for these beneficial tips. People who apologize have strong character, admire themselves, and their partners amongst their kids, parents, spouses etc.

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