Here Is A Simple But Powerful 5-Step Process For Making The “Perfect Apology” That Mends Fences And Builds Bridges
Have you ever apologized to someone for something you did or said, but then afterward, you felt like your apology wasn’t fully received or accepted? And so you weren’t able to fully mend the relationship?
Making mistakes and apologizing for them is a natural part of the human experience, because none of us are perfect. Every single one of us, at one time or another, has done or said something we wish we hadn’t. Or perhaps we’ve made a commitment or promise we didn’t keep, or let out a secret we weren’t supposed to share.
None of us ever wants to hurt or let anyone down. But when we do, the best way to make amends is to offer something that I call “a perfect apology.”
Here are the five steps to making a perfect apology that will help to repair any damage and restores the connection between you and the other person.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE STEP #1: Acknowledge what happened
The first step to a perfect apology is to acknowledge exactly what happened, stating the facts.
You may say, for example, “I promised you I would be there by 7:00pm, and I didn’t arrive until 7:45pm. I’m very sorry.”
Or, “I promised you this project would be completed today, and it didn’t get completed. I apologize.”
Acknowledge that you know exactly what happened that may have let the other person down.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE STEP #2: Take responsibility
The second step of a perfect apology is to own and take responsibility for your actions, without deflecting blame.
For example, if you’re late, instead of saying “Oh, it was because of traffic” or pointing out another outside cause, you can simply say, “I take full responsibility for being late.”
This step is powerful because people deeply appreciate honest ownership of a mistake more than a string of excuses.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE STEP #3: Take immediate action to fix the problem
Once you’ve acknowledged the issue and you’ve taken full responsibility for it, let the other person know what you are currently doing to fix the situation.
Keep in mind that in some cases, there may not be an immediate fix, but the point is that you are addressing the issue immediately.
For instance, you might say, “I know am behind on completing this project that I said I would have done for you, so I have rearranged my day, cleared my schedule, and this project is now my top priority. It will still be completed late, but I’ll take care of it before I do anything else today.”
Taking timely action to right things shows the person you are apologizing to that you are serious about making amends, not just saying so.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE STEP #4: Put a future plan in place
The next step builds upon Step #3, and involves devising a preventative plan to ensure that the mistake or issue doesn’t happen again.
For example, perhaps you can set an alarm for 30 minutes earlier for each time that you’re scheduled to meet with the person whom you let down by being late.
The key here is to actually tell the person, “I have put a system in place to guarantee that this never happens again, and here is that system…”
This step communicates your ongoing and long-term commitment to the health, wellness and success of the relationship, and sets it up to actually grow and improve beyond its current state.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE STEP #5: Ask what further action you can take
Now in the last step, genuinely ask the person you’ve wronged, “Is there anything else I can do to make this right between us?”
This is actually a very important step in making someone feel heard, recognized and cared about.
Expressing this type of concern and care helps show someone that the well-being of your relationship with them is a top priority to you, and that you’re willing to go above-and-beyond for them.
A proper apology is proactive
This five-step process for the perfect apology is about making things right in the now, and ensuring an even healthier, more expansive future for the relationship between the two of you.
When you make sure to cover all of these five points when apologizing, you’re going to find that the apology is received and appreciated, that trust is restored, and that all parties can move forward.
It can be uncomfortable and humbling to issue an apology, especially one this thorough, but you’ll find that everyone can heal quickly and easily if you do.
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