The Secret of Apologizing

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“I said I was sorry” or “I’m sorry for doing that to you,” are good things to say when we feel we’ve done wrong to someone else, right?

Well, we are told this because we ourselves are told “sorry” almost daily. Well I say, not anymore.

Saying sorry has turned into a passive phrase. How many times do we ask “how are you doing” to others? In reality we are trying to fill silence when we run into people we know or don’t know. How crazy is that?

No worries though, I believe there is a secret sauce to this apologizing stuff without saying the “S” word.

Take a moment and think about it. Saying sorry is literally saying “I’m a sorry person.” I will be the first to tell you that YOU are not a sorry person, you are actually quite the opposite.

You decided to drop your guard for a moment and let someone in. In fact, you are an honorable person because you want to apologize.

Apologizing is an art.

Painting a picture requires a few steps so you can get what’s on your mind and put it on a piece of paper. Apologizing is taking a few extra steps and letting someone know you care about them and are willing to be vulnerable for a moment.

Take a few moments and review what’s in the secret sauce of apologizing.

Step 1: Understanding that you’ve wronged someone.

Take it from me, I am sure I’ve wronged many people and gave sucky apologies because all I said was “I’m sorry.”

Or worse, maybe I’ve said “I’m sorry, but…” which defeats the purpose of saying sorry in the first place. Giving someone an excuse for your sorriness does not make it look pretty.

Understand and acknowledge that you’ve wronged this person and own up to it. Do this without any excuse, no matter how good it may sound.

Step 2: Don’t feel bad for them, understand with them.

Ever heard of the words empathy and sympathy used in the same sentence? Sympathy is feeling bad for someone while empathy is understanding the bad with them.

In other words, stick it out with empathy because it lets the person know that you are doing your best to understand the pain you may have put them through.

Let them know that if anyone were to wrong you as you wronged them, it would suck, hurt, feel terrible, make you mad or (input feeling here).

Put yourself in their situation and tell them your feelings. They may appreciate it.

Step 3: Don’t tell them what you won’t do.

I cannot tell you how much I’ve heard “I won’t do it ever again…,” and I can see the goodness in others’ hearts when I do hear that, but something important is missing.

Besides telling your friend, partner or whoever that you won’t do it ever again, tell them what you will do from now on.

Create a plan that will help this person understand that you are serious about not doing it again. Show them with ideas, examples or anything that will help you both with this change.

It simply isn’t enough to say you won’t do something again, it may be better to tie in some action.

Step 4: Bringing it home.

Once you’ve completed the first 3 steps, you are ready to bring it home! In other words, take what you’ve learned from here and try it out with this person you’ve wronged.

Heck, let them know you are trying something new, they may appreciate it and see you are trying hard.

The point of bringing it home is to maintain what you will do so that you will no longer have to be “sorry” for your actions.

Because saying sorry is just not enough anymore, taking action lets both you and the other person or persons know that you are serious, care for them and most importantly, a human that makes mistakes but is willing to own up and change.

Jacob Kountz

Jacob Kountz

Jacob is currently an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Bakersfield, Ca.

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