7 Steps to a Sincere Apology

March 4th, 2009 by Jane

When I was a tween, Love Story was the most romantic movie I could imagine. Ollie and Jenny were the perfect couple and love meant never having to say you’re sorry. As an adult, I know this is an extreme load of bunk. In response to some recent events, both private and global, I am starting a movement that is based on what I think is a collective need to hear a simple explanation and a heartfelt apology when a screw-up, a mix-up or a gaffe has occurred.  People do not want groveling, we just want to be treated with respect.  I am convinced that we, as a country, would not be so litigious if this would occur more often. So, to kick off the Sincere Apology Movement (SAM), I am sharing a few helpful hints that I have found.

1. Definition
Apology defined is: a written or verbal expression of sorrow or regret for having wronged another.
Note this does not mention anything about intent. I believe most people have the best intentions most of the time. Call me Pollyanna, but I do.

2. Acknowledgement
The person who feels she has been wronged wants to be acknowledged. We all do. But most especially when we feel we have been slighted or offended. We want to know that our feelings matter. Find out how to craft the perfect apology.

3. Write It or Say It
You can deliver an apology in written or verbal form, although more serious issues might require both. A lovely card will do the trick in most situations. Or try a funny e-card.  At a loss?  Just say, “My apologies. How might I make this up to you?” Don’t want to leave that open-ended? Then extend an offer of how you will make up for the incident. Offer to dry clean the tablerunner you just stained. Say you will go back and correct some misinformation you dispersed. And then do it.

4. Listen
When it comes down to basic human interaction, it seems we all just want to be heard. Sit down and listen to the injured party’s concerns and feelings about the matter. Invite her to lunch and make it more meaningful.

5. Humor
I always go for a tone of self-deprecating humor when I am red in the face because I have found that laughter diffuses most scenarios and forms a connection between individuals. Take a cue from Ashton Kutcher and try mixing sincerity with charm.

6. Flowers
Send flowers or a small gift with a little note and everyone will feel better. Look up the meaning of specific flowers to convey the perfect message.

7. Acceptance
If you are the person who has been given an apology, it is important that you be able to accept it or let the person know that you cannot. If you have offered apologies and done your best to make amends, but the injured party cannot move on, then you must.  Make some space and time to let the other person process her emotions. Everyone makes blunders, but being a grown-up means being able to say you’re sorry when you do. 

2 Responses to “7 Steps to a Sincere Apology”

  1. Sister Sue Says:

    Great idea! Funny how as we grow older we realize that love means saying I’m sorry.

    Keep up the great posts.

    P.S. You always did want to be Haley Mills when you were a kid. Well right after Laurie Partridge.

  2. sandra407 Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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