5 Steps to an Effective Apology UPDATED

The Japanese have a word “Gomenasai” that is roughly equivalent to the English word “sorry”. It’s used to apologize when you harm or offend someone. The word implies humility (Sorry to disturb you…Sorry for coming into your house), but it’s also used as a way to avoid guilt. Someone will say sorry just seconds before they ram the back of your legs with a shopping trolley. Another will mouth the word as they rudely cut you off with their car. This is how people use apologies every day, except perhaps more blatant.

How can apologies be so valuable but so misused?

Genuine apology is an unfashionable concept. With humility and one way service it’s among the least popular traits in our advanced culture. Nonetheless, it’s a vital part of life that’s indispensable in building strong relationships.

What then, is an apology? In its simplest form, an apology is taking responsibility for a disturbance in a relationship. These insincere apologies imply nothing about your attitude towards the disturbance you are taking responsibility for. A useful apology always acknowledges that you regret your part in the disturbance and are trying to stop or reverse its occurrence.

An apology is not just a tool to make peace. It’s not another way of saying “Get off my back”. It’s not a way of introducing harm, “sorry but I am going to have to divorce you”. It’s not a tool to manipulate others.

When should you apologize? Whenever there is a break in a relationship. No matter what the issue, there will usually be a part, even a small part, that was your responsibility. For this you should apologize. Realizing that a disturbance is your responsibility is a giant step towards emotional maturity.

But WHEN should you apologize? As soon as possible. Depending on the relationship this may be immediately or when you’ve cooled off after a few days

It is our responsibility to take the initiative to apologize. If you wait for the other party to come to you, you may be waiting forever. It takes boldness and integrity to make the first step. Never let an apology swing on timidness or lack of confidence.

A genuine apology is not a habitual apologetic mannerism. It is a deliberate effort to solve a relational problem that you have contributed to. This requires of discipline. Believe me because I know from experience.

I struggle with apologies as much as the next person. I find it’s usually the hardest when the relationship is particularly important to me, like my direct family. When I’m in the wrong, I will try anything I can think of, short of apologizing, to try and solve the problem.

Sooner or later, though, I have to swallow my pride and apologize. It should be no surprise but usually my apology contributes to healing a damaged relationship. Often the relationship ends up stronger than ever. Apology is one of the toughest but most productive habits that I am trying to adopt. We all need to sharpen up our apology sense.

There was, and still is, an Australian Prime Minister who refused to say sorry to the Australian Aboriginal people for crimes against them in the past. This isn’t a political article so I won’t go into details, but it seems the main reason that he wouldn’t publicly apologize was that he was afraid of the backlash. He feared an apology would mean admitting guilt and that this would fuel the disturbance and not remedy it.

This sort of attitude is all too prevalent in our society. We no longer trust each other. We realize that if we apologize, we’re admitting guilt. If we admit guilt it can be used against us. This may be true in a legal sense — I have held car insurance policies that are void if I admit guilt or apologize at the scene of a potential accident — but it is totally wrong in a relational sense.

We have to get past the paranoia that makes us believe that everyone will try to use an apology against us. There will be times when an apology is abused, but more often than not, a genuine apology will be well received and will go a long way towards solving a disturbance between two people.

How to apologize:

  1. Make it genuine – Anyone can spot a false apology and it will do more harm than good. A genuine apology is aimed solely at taking responsibility and overcoming a disturbance. There are no hidden obligations or expectations attached.
  2. Don’t justify your actions – If you are busy explaining why you did what you did, it will start to sound like you aren’t apologizing at all, that you aren’t ready to take responsibility. A brief explanation may help understanding, while a justification may just fuel the disturbance.
  3. Make a commitment to change – If you can’t confirm that you mean to improve, then you aren’t committed to an apology. If you aren’t committed to changing your habit of getting home late, don’t say “Sorry I am home late”. This will be a hollow and ineffective apology. You are better off thanking the other person, “Thanks for putting up with me coming home so late. I appreciate it” and taking it from there.
  4. Phrased you apology carefully – Make sure the other person knows why you are apologizing. “I was passing by so I thought I’d drop in and say sorry” is a lot different to “I wanted to come and apologize because I really do care about this relationship”. Don’t fake it. If you have a good reason to keep the relationship alive the other person will want to hear it.
  5. Be ready for an awkward conclusion – While sometimes an apology is followed straight away by a counter apology and peace and flowers and little birds carrying banners of love through the air, not everyone reacts this way. Some people will behave indifferently, some will behave coldly, and some will react in a downright hostile way. This is out of your control. You have made the step to apologize. Doing it in a productive way is the best you can do. Maybe the other person will appreciate it now, later, or never. No matter what, you have done your bit and you can relax. The rest is up to them.

Who do you need to apologize to today?

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Reclaiming Your Sexuality

Bringing Sexy Back

If you’ve been out of the dating scene for a while (perhaps due to divorce) and are thinking about entering a new relationship, or have found that your relationship has become sexless, the idea of having a sexual encounter can be very exciting, but also very nerve-racking. It’s easy to lose touch with your sexual self, and it’s important to give your body and mind permission to feel pleasure and reawaken your sexuality. Here are a few suggestions to help you feel more sexual and open to the possibility of experiencing renewed sexual pleasure:

Be open to the possibility that some of your concerns about sex might be quite overblown.

First, list the things that worry you most about reclaiming your sexuality or that you are fearing right now about sex. Once you’ve made your list, it’s important to see if your fears and anxieties are realistic. If not, make a commitment to yourself to replace unrealistic beliefs with ones that serve you. For example, if you write: “I worry my sexual partner might not find me attractive,” replace that with, “this person is expressing interest in being intimate with me, so where’s the evidence that he/she is not attracted to me?” Practice catching yourself every time you find yourself focusing on one of your worrisome beliefs and replace it with a thought that’s not fear based.

How you feel about your body often affects your ability to feel excited about sex. 

Make another list of the things that you’re not happy with about your body. Notice the things you’re ready, willing and able to alter and those which are beyond your control. Instead of concentrating on how your body could be different, see if you can shift your focus to changing your attitude about your body insecurities instead. Usually, no one else is noticing those “flaws” you see but you!

Feeling attractive is most of the battle.

Much of your sexuality comes from how you think of yourselfas a sexual being. So if you do things to feel sexier, you’re giving your mind the opportunity to catch up with you. Maybe this means putting on a sexy outfit, wearing lingerie underneath your clothing, or putting on a little extra makeup. Perhaps getting pampered in some way, sleeping with satin sheets, taking a bubble bath, or reading a steamy book can help you to hit the right chord. You know what makes you feel sexier, do it and notice whether this helps with your reawakening.

When you are involved in any activity, sexual or not, it can be very pleasant to focus on the sensory experiences around you. 

For example, if you are taking a walk, tune into the sounds of nature around you, become aware of the crunch of leaves under your feet, feel the breeze on your skin and take notice of the way your body feels as you take each step. Becoming more aware of experiencing sensuously pleasurable moments in your daily life can go a long way toward helping you to stay present and attuned to your sensory experience during sex.

Your sexuality is a part of you, even if it has felt dormant for a while.

With some effort to reconnect with your sexual desires and by refusing to let your fears and anxieties get in the way, you can very quickly open yourself to many new, exciting and pleasurable experiences!

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RikkiSpeaks – Throw The Car In Drive, My Friend

Often times people live with the “if I would have only done this or that” attitude, while others allow it to consume them. In allowing time to tear oneself down from the past, the world seems to get by on them.

Consider that life is like driving a car. What is behind you is the past and the future is ahead. Driving into the unknown can be a struggle but will surely take you to places you have never been. No one guarantees that what’s in front of you will always be bliss, but what is for certain is that if you continue driving in reverse, you will inevitably crash. This wreck can, and will, ruin what could have been, leaving yourself one more, “what if”. Looking in the rear view, once in a while, is acceptable, as revisiting the past can be a wonderful way to compare to what you are seeing ahead. Don’t allow your eyes to linger there too long, because you don’t wish to miss the curves ahead.

Throw the car in drive, my friend, and drive with all your might. 
If you drive in reverse too long, you’ll surely lose your sight.
Remember when you’ve seen the world, to turn and drive again
It never hurts to see the changes, between the now and then.

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