The art of apology and forgiveness

There is an art to really apologizing to someone. It is the fine line between heartfelt sorrow and just shutting them up. There is also an art to receiving an apology.

The art of apology and forgiveness

There is an art to really apologizing to someone. It is the fine line between heartfelt sorrow and just shutting them up. There is also an art to receiving an apology.
  • Apologizing has become almost a lost art. There's a finesse to it. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for it to be valid. Then, there is a proper way for it to be received and acknowledged. Let's break it down.

  • The following are examples of faux apologies. They don't count. At all. Ever.

    • "Gee whiz, I'm sorry if that bothered you."

    • "I'm sorry I got angry with you, but, you know, you kind of asked for it."

    • "I'm sooooooo soooorrrrryyyyy!"

    • "Excuse me for living!"

    • "Get over it."

    • "Whatever."

    • "I'm sorry you took it the wrong way."

    • "I'm sorry you're not smart enough to understand."

    • "I'm sorry, but I really wish you could see my side."

    • "I'm sorry you caught me doing that."

  • Likewise, these are not the way to accept a decent apology. Ever. Under any circumstances.

    • "Yea, well, you should be sorry."

    • "What were you thinking?"

    • "Whatever."

    • "Sorry, my eyeball!"

    • "You don't mean it."

    • "You're only sorry you got caught."

    • "Blow it out your nose."

    • "Tell it to the army."

    • "Don't waste your breath."

    • "Your apology and a buck will get me a candy bar, nothing more."

  • These are limp, weak, non-responsibility-taking attempts at an apology and totally inappropriate responses.

  • In order to really apologize, you have to

    • Realize and acknowledge that you did something wrong.

    • Stating exactly what it is that you did to cause the problem so that the recipient knows that you understand what you did.

    • Own and feel sorrow for the feelings you've hurt or the damage you've done.

    • Want to make amends in any way that you can.

    • Expect nothing in return for your apology.

    • Work to make resolution for your wrong until the debt is satisfied.

    • Work as hard as you can to never make the same mistake again.

  • That, my friends, is the art of apology.

  • To graciously accept an apology

    • Don't ask for an apology — wait for it to happen.

    • Honest forgiveness.

    • Gratitude for the apology.

    • Let go of the hurt and not carrying it around as old baggage.

    • Never speak of it again (Don't bring it up every time a disagreement occurs).

    • Expect the best from the perpetrator of the hurt.

    • Pray for the offender to learn from his mistake and to do better

    • Love unconditionally.

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  • Sometimes, it seems to me, that we dance around actual apologies with a lot of fancy footwork that dazzles the senses, but in the long run, leave the heart empty and broken. It becomes harder and harder to apologize and then it becomes harder and harder for the victim to forgive. So both parties add these huge rocks to the load they carry and begin to see the world as a pretty shabby place.

  • Apologies and acceptances should always include "I" words

  • "I am sorry that I did that. Isincerely apologize. The last thing I ever want to do is cause you pain."

  • "I accept your apology. It did hurt my feelings, but I believe you mean what you say and I am letting go of it. Thank you for understanding."

  • If the apology is sincere, it needn't include expensive tokens like flowers and chocolates and jewelry. It will stand on its own two feet and mean so much more.

  • Now, just for fun, I'd like to share an argument that the sound man caught on the set of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood between Fred Rogers and his wife in 1981.

  • "Sometimes, when we disagree, I feel frustrated. But I never forget how lucky I am to have you in my family. Always remember how special you are."

  • I share this because I think if we could learn to disagree more thoughtfully and with less anger, there wouldn't be the need for quite so many apologies.

Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.


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