The Art of Sincere Apology: Harvard Health Blog

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If you’ve been mostly trapped at home with one or more family members over the past year, you’ve probably gotten nervous from time to time. When you have a lot of stress, it’s not uncommon to say something nasty or even angrily attack someone you care about. And, from time to time, we make thoughtless mistakes, like forgetting a promise or breaking something.

Not sure if you should apologize?

Even if you don’t think what you said or did was so bad or you think the other person is wrong, it’s still important to apologize when you’ve hurt or angered someone. “To preserve or re-establish connections with other people, you need to put aside worries about good and evil, and instead try to understand the other person’s experience,” says Dr. Ronald Siegel, a professor. assistant psychologist at Harvard Medical School. This ability is one of the fundamental pillars of emotional intelligence, which is based on productive and healthy relationships of all kinds.

How to apologize for real

For an apology to be effective, it must be genuine. A successfully validated apology that the other person felt offended and acknowledges responsibility (accept that your actions caused pain to the other person). You want to convey that you are really sorry and worried about the injured person and that you promise to repair it, including taking steps to avoid similar setbacks in the following examples.

According to the late psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Lazare, an apology expert and former chancellor and dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, a good apology has four elements:

  • He acknowledges the crime. Take responsibility for the fault, whether it is physical or psychological harm, and confirm that your behavior was not acceptable. Avoid using inaccurate or evasive language or writing apologies in a way that minimizes the crime or questions whether the victim has actually been injured.
  • Explain what happened. The challenge here is to explain how the crime occurred without excusing it. In fact, sometimes the best strategy is to say there is no excuse.
  • Express remorse. If you regret the mistake or feel ashamed or humiliated, say so: all of this is part of a sincere regret.
  • Repair offer. For example, if you have damaged someone’s property, have it repaired or replaced. When the crime has hurt someone’s feelings, acknowledge the pain and promise to try to be more sensitive in the future.

Make a heartfelt apology

The words you choose to apologize count. Here are some examples of good and bad apologies.

EFFECTIVE SPEECH WHY IT WORKS
“I am just sorry I lost my temper last night. At work I’ve been under a lot of pressure, but that’s no excuse for my behavior. I love you and I will do my best not to get frustrated. “ He takes responsibility, explains but does not excuse why the mistake occurred, expresses remorse and concern, and promises reparation.
“I forgot. Sorry for that mistake. It shouldn’t have happened. What can I do to avoid this problem in the future?” Take responsibility, describe the mistake, make the person feel cared for, and start a conversation about how to fix the mistake.
INEFFECTIVE WORDS WHY IT WILL NOT WORK
“I apologize for what happened.” The language is imprecise; the offense is not specified.
“Mistakes made”. The use of passive voice avoids taking on responsibilities.
“It simply came to our notice then. I didn’t know it was such a delicate subject for you. “ It sounds resentful, it returns the blame to the offended person (for “sensitivity”).



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