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June 21, 2013

Sincere apologies crucial in friendships

Problem: You forgot a date to spend an evening out with a friend. Although you have said you are sorry, she’s still angry with you.

Solution: Apologize again in a more complete and meaningful way.

Apologies are a crucial element in human relations because they help communicate to others the feeling that we value them, that we regret hurting them and that we want to maintain our relationships with them.

It is important to know how to apologize because many of us, at one time or another, say or do something that hurts someone else. We may say or do these hurtful things unintentionally, hurting others because we are stressed, preoccupied with our personal problems, emotionally distressed or simply forgetful.

Nonetheless, when we hurt someone we care about, even if it was entirely unintended, we need to apologize sincerely. And, it is especially important to make the apology meaningful particularly to the person whose feelings we have hurt. Here are some examples:

Make the apology sincere and complete. A quick, lukewarm “sorry” just isn’t enough when someone is hurt.

Take the time to express your apology fully and sincerely. Make eye contact, and, if it is appropriate to the relationship, take the hand of the person to whom you are apologizing.

Make it quite clear that you understand the effect your words or actions have had, including the hurt you caused: “I am really, truly sorry that I forgot about our evening out. I know you were really looking forward to it, and I know I hurt you when I forgot about it.”

Offer the reasons for, or provide some insight into your actions: “I had a horrible day at work and I was upset by some things my boss said to me. Because of that stress, everything else just went right out of my mind that day.”

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