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Apologize correctly to deal with conflict

Posted Aug 08 2009 10:15pm

Did you know there is a science and an art to learning how to properly say “I’m sorry”? Just saying the words “I’m sorry” usually doesn’t get it and often does not resolve the conflict while apologizing the right way just might.

If you are asking forgiveness, the following seven steps have been found necessary for an effective apology. If you are on the receiving end of an apology and are considering forgiving someone, you should require all elements listed below before you accept the apology as genuine.

Step 1- State a detailed account of the situation to make sure that both you and the other person are talking about the same thing. Sometimes conflicts continue partly because you and the other are upset over different aspects of the dispute or disagreement.

Step 2 - Acknowledge the hurt, pain, damage or suffering you caused the other person. Just admitting it can often go a long way toward healing the emotional damage done.

Step 3 - Take personal responsibility for whatever you did - or didn’t do - rather than trying to shift blame or make excuses for what happened.

Step 4- Express regret to the other person for the incident in a way that is apparent that you really mean it.

Step 5- Specifically ask for forgiveness. Saying the words “please forgive me” can go a long way toward the forgiveness process and add weight to the sincerity of your apology.

Step 6 - Make a heartfelt promise that you won’t do it again. Obviously, you must stick to your promise and honor your commitment, or all bets will be off! Prepare for the reality that it will take some time for the other person to re-build trust in you; don’t expect instant results.

Step 7-Offer some form of restitution, if at all possible. Restitution - making it right - can be financial, emotional or social. Just offering an apology without at least trying to find a way to “make it right” may come across as shallow and hollow. Talk in itself may or may not be seen as sincere; action usually communicates much more intent and proof of feelings.

Try these seven steps the next time you need to apologize - or accept an apology from someone else - and see if they don’t help reduce the conflict you have. More on using the eight tools of anger management and conflict resolution at ht tp://www.angercoach.com. and http://www.angercoachonline.com

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