APOLOGY is birthed out of the womb of regret.
Apology can be seen as the outcome of expression for what is deeply lamented.
Three things are important in an apology: the words that are used, the sincerity behind the words that also links to action, and that the apology is full and unconditional, without retraction.
The Words Are Important
Some people won’t understand that for some people, indeed many, the words “I am sorry” mean a great deal. Of course, there are plenty of people who don’t need to hear the words, as they are looking for some other form of regret expression. But it cannot hurt and will very much help when we say these words. For some, though the words are important, they aren’t enough. The apology is backed up with the seeking of forgiveness, acceptance of responsibility, or the doing of things to make the situation right again.
When apologising we need to be ready for the ‘for what?’ question. In the words of an apology we need to nail down what exactly it is we are apologising for, and why – “I’m sorry for forgetting to pick you up on Tuesday (the what) and I’m sorry for the inconvenience and embarrassment it caused you (the why).”
Words in this context merely get us to first base, but we are sure to be out before hitting the bag if we are not sincere.
What Isn’t Said Is Just As Important
Sincerity is such a key to most communications. People have a radar for whether they are being conned or not, and they have every right to go away thinking ‘they actually got it’. There isn’t must use in even apologising if we haven’t meant it.
Behind all our words of apology is meaning. Why be a liar?
After the apology’s made, the tests of your integrity continue, at least in their eyes. They are on the unconscious lookout for signs that you either meant it or you didn’t.
No Subtle Retractions
Something that destroys a good apology – one that’s been heard and accepted – is the last moment retraction, where some rationale is given for doing what it was that caused the slight in the first place.
You were almost there, reconciliation as a masterstroke of sincerity, and then you blew your whole case by pulling back from the blame on yourself. You should have realised that their hearing and acceptance of your apology depended on it being unconditional – no strings attached.
So many matters of conflict that were actually being resolved end up at square one because of a retraction.
Nobody likes it when someone dilutes their apology. Make it sincere, through and through, for there is nothing to lose.
Apology is birthed out of the womb of regret. It has three characteristics: the words that are used – “I am sorry,” the sincerity behind the words which links to action, and that the apology is full and unconditional, without retraction (no buts).
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.