Rules of apologizing - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

The rules of apologizing

Have you noticed the words, "I'm sorry" tend to ring insincere more often than not?

Why is that?

Our communications coach, Marcia Brandwynne, says there are key ingredients to a good apology.

"Most of us are terrible at saying we're sorry," says Marcia. "We do it because we hope it will get us over a bad situation. But most of the time, if we haven't really thought about our behavior and why it made someone unhappy, then we haven't really taken the apology to heart. And it shows!"

Before you apologize, if you really want to fix a problem with someone, you need to know the unwritten rules for apologies.

  • First, an apology is not an eraser. It doesn't do away with the damage, but it is the first step to making amends.
  • Second, understand why what you did was hurtful. See it from the other person's point of view. If you don't know what you did, ask them, and listen without getting defensive.
  • Third, don't apologize to get forgiveness. Just because you are ready to say you're sorry doesn't mean someone is ready to hear it. Look upon an apology as cleansing your own soul.
  • Fourth, never say, "I'm sorry but…" There should be no excuses. That's the quickest way to show insincerity.
  • Fifth, and most important: Learn from your mistake. What can you change about yourself so you won't repeat the behavior again?

"It's hard to say, 'I'm sorry,'" says Marcia. "It takes moral courage. But the simple trick to saying you're sorry is to really mean it."

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