I’m sorry, but your sorry stinks!
How often have you stood over your children saying these words “What do you say?” in response you hear a quick “sorry.” ? You and everyone else knew that it didn’t mean anything close to sorry. How to say I am sorry and mean it is one thing I am glad I have learned in my life. I am trying to teach it to my children as well.
In the past my way of apologizing was all wrong. My first response to having to tell someone I am sorry was to tell them I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings. In most cases people are never trying to hurt someone else. This is when the popular I am sorry, but…comes into play. The word but takes away any and all true emotions behind an apology. Instead of telling the person how sorry you are what you are really doing is giving yourself an excuse to whatever it was you screwed up on.
Now days, I never say but anywhere in my apology. I have replaced them with a request of forgiveness at the end of the apology. I think it is important to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is key to building a relationship that was set off balance.
Life can’t always go super peachy, however it helps knowing how to get back on track when thrown off. I start with the person’s name like so: “Ryan, I need to tell you I am sorry.” I don’t ask him if he thinks I need to tell him sorry. This is me acknowledging the simple fact that I have done something wrong to him. I take ownership in my own actions.
Next, I would lead in with my reason for saying sorry. Example: “I was very rude to you this afternoon. I realize you were just trying to help me and I was not in a good mood.” Stating your own actions and humbling yourself is key to a good apology.
One thing I catch myself and my children saying here is “If”, for example: “I am sorry IF I hurt your feelings” or “I am sorry IF you took that the wrong way”. This is not a true apology either. Am I only sorry IF you took what I said negatively? What if you didn’t take it negatively, then am I not sorry? No, these apologies need to be said more along these lines: “I am sorry I said _____, I shouldn’t have said it whether or not I hurt your feelings”. Ifs and buts ruin an apology.
Lastly, I seek forgiveness by just asking for it. I have yet to have someone tell me “No – you suck I don’t forgive you.” Don’t expect the other person to jump in after your apology and be all happy, but give them time to adjust. Sooner or later they will come around. If not I think they need to check their heart out, too. I feel I need to add if you have said or done something major to someone else it could take years for them to forgive. You on the other hand will need to be OK with it and continue on with life.
Also, words like you always, you never, I can’t believe and you don’t are not helpful in any way when saying sorry to someone. Don’t say Booyah, there it is, so there or whatever to end your apology either. It makes it feel as though you did it out of duty instead of love.
I hope the next time you need to say sorry you will have a better apology for that other person. Good luck to you -