Apologies seem to be difficult for a lot of people, but they are so very important. For many people that I know, it seems like even admitting they are wrong about something is challenging. (I have addressed this issue in a previous post titled “Owning Your Mistakes”.) For them to go the extra step of actually apologizing is something not likely to happen. Or if they do, it’s probably not sincere. A sincere apology is definitely not asking someone, ”So are we good?” It should definitely sound like you understand your part in whatever situation and how it negatively impacted the other person, even if it was something that you did or said that was perceived as being wrong. Even if you don’t think you are wrong, it never hurts to apologize for giving the other person the impression you had ill intents. (For more thoughts on the importance of sincerity and what I think a sincere apology SHOULD sound like, see my previous post titled “Sincerity“.)
An apology shows that not only are you willing to admit that you were wrong about something (if you were) but also that you have remorse for doing so and that you care enough about the other person to make things right. Often without an apology, it doesn’t ever feel like an issue really got resolved or that it won’t happen again.
That’s the other piece of the puzzle – trying not to make the same mistake again. If you are truly sorry, then you will make that effort because it doesn’t matter how many times you apologize, the words won’t mean anything if you don’t do things differently moving forward. In other words, your actions always speak louder than your words. If you don’t make any changes, it becomes clear to the other person that you really aren’t sorry and don’t care that you hurt their feelings, caused them stress and frustration or extra work, betrayed their trust, or whatever the case may be. Of course, if you don’t actually understand these things, then you probably don’t see why an apology is necessary. So it’s all interrelated. If you can see the big picture and understand how your actions impact others, you probably already understand the importance of apologizing, even if it’s just to say you’re sorry that you don’t see eye to eye on a particular situation at the moment. If you don’t, then you probably have a number of things to work on, including how and when to apologize. If anything, it’s a good way to wrap up a disagreement on a more positive note.
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