Let’s be honest, and we’ve all been there; at some point in life, you would have wondered how to apologize to someone you hurt or how to apologize when you are not wrong! For example, you are talking with someone, and they say something that gets under your skin, and then before we know it, the conversation has turned into a heated argument that could potentially lead the two of you to go separate ways.
In those moments, the problem is that we tend to say things that hurt the other person without realizing it. It does not matter if you are right or wrong; it is just that at that moment in time, you already said something or the opposite person said something back to make you feel terrible.
When you meet with such situations, it is as good as spilled milk, and sometimes it is actually a bit childish, but it’s hard to take those words back. Sometimes we may even say a lot more than we intended to the other person to justify what we said, which does not help.
Think about why are you apologizing
So after everything is over, when your rage cools down, you feel awful about your actions towards the other person and decide to apologize. The very first step you need is first to understand why you are apologizing. It doesn’t matter if you want a relationship with this person or just plain guilt, but there needs to be some reasoning behind the apology so that you know what you want to do.
If you cannot convince yourself that you are wrong or need to apologize because of your action, the apology will not be sincere and will do more harm than good. Sincerity is what makes the apology effective, and if you are apologizing just because someone expects it, the person will know that your words aren’t genuine, which will make things worse.
So why is it so difficult to apologize
Apologizing can be challenging but also have a lot of power simultaneously, and it can be one of the most challenging things to do. Simply because you are admitting a mistake and taking responsibility for the situation, most of us don’t want to do that, and sometimes, it takes courage to step forward.
You can hurt someone in various ways, and it is essential to recognize the different types of breaking out there. If you physically hurt someone, the apology may be much easier since this can be accidental and not within your control.
However, if this is about exchanging hurtful words, it would be more associated with mental wellbeing, which might become more difficult because you might not have a clear line for the apology.
When someone says something or does something hurtful to us, we can internalize the guilt and make ourselves guilty over things that aren’t our fault. It can cause us to take on a lot of blame and accountability that isn’t ours, which is why it takes some time for you to figure out if an apology is necessary or not. There are also many times; people apologize because they don’t want to hurt you further.
Another complicated type of apology is for the situation when you are not wrong. It can be a very awkward and uncomfortable position to find yourself. Still, it doesn’t mean that this shouldn’t happen either because saying sorry will help both sides move on better than having nothing at all. You may disagree, but if this is related to work or concerning your team’s benefits, sometimes, there is no point in holding on to your own personal goals and jeopardize the bigger picture.
The point is, be the bigger man in such cases if it’s necessary, people will look up to you, you may lose the argument, but you will win the rest of the people, which is more worthwhile if you look at it down the road.
When should you apologize to the other person
When you decided and want to apologize, don’t try and get the person to forgive you straight away by being overly apologetic or saying sorry too many times – this can come off as fake and insincere.
It is imperative to pick the right time to make an apology. So, before attempting to resolve any issues that may have occurred with another person, wait until they are calm enough to talk about what happened. If someone is still angry, they will most not likely listen to you even if you are very sincere.
Depending on the seriousness of the situation, some may not want to hear from you; it may take a few weeks but don’t wait too long because if you both keep avoiding each other, it will only get worse. Eventually, the matter could put the two of you no longer on speaking terms.
Remember, everyone is different, so prepare your apology
You may think it is not necessary, but each individual is different, and sometimes they need a different kind of apology. Prepare yourself on how you want to go about with the apology and what exactly it is that you are apologizing for. Chances are people might not know if your intentions were pure or shallow because there needs to be some reasoning behind the apology other than “I’m sorry.”
Choose your apology method
There are many ways to say sorry, and you should always look at the methods for each individual as everyone and everything is not the same. If the apology is for something that had hurt someone mentally, don’t try saying sorry just once, then expecting everything will go back to normal because there needs to be a behavior change.
Always do it in person whenever possible
It is also essential that whenever you apologize, always make an effort to do it in person, as this is the most respectful way of offering a sincere apology. If someone was offended by what you have said or done, then the least they deserve is a face-to-face so that there isn’t any room for misinterpretation of your intentions.
There is nothing worse than hearing “I’m sorry” from a distance, where there is no clear view of eyes or body language. If you chose to use a phone message or email or get another person to apologize on behalf, it is almost like telling the person you are not sincere in the face and will make things worse.
Stop your excuses
Yes, you may say, “It is difficult to do it in person, I don’t know how to face that person” Well, for a start, that is a good thing cause you are sincere about it, so why spoil it? Ask yourself how you feel you receive an apology or a breakup through phone messages.
When apologizing for something done unintentionally, such as a mistake at work or forgetting about an appointment, don’t make excuses because this will only hurt the other person more. In such scenarios, accepting responsibility is the best approach, and if they are genuinely your friend, then there shouldn’t be any need to make up stories when it was simply an honest mistake.
Apologizing is not about the words, but what you do next and how you behave that will determine if you express regret or whatever you said were just empty promises.
If someone says sorry to me, I wouldn’t say, “okay we are fine now” because the person should understand that there might need some time for the person to feel better about what happened, and this is why you should always apologize in a simple way, express remorse and try to make amends.
Make efforts to listen to the person
Many are quick to say sorry to get over the apology part, but many fail to make efforts to hear why people are upset over their actions.
Differences in opinion cause disagreements, and fights happen between people all the time. Making efforts to listen will allow you to understand better where the person is coming from and help build a stronger relationship between you. If someone trusts what you have told them, there shouldn’t be any reason to doubt you or fear it might happen again.
In return, this allows you to understand better why the other person feels that way and will enable you to explain yourself sometimes.
Determine what are the reasons you are apologizing for
To apologize for the right reasons is to apologize with pure intentions and take responsibility; however, to be very blunt about it, one can also use it to get something you want from someone.
People might be quick to apologize for things they have done to hurt someone, but the truth is that it does not always mean their apology was genuine.
Don’t just say sorry because you want something from someone else or you are afraid of losing them as a friend/family member if this is why then don’t think twice and look for someone else because this shows that you are just trying to get something without even thinking about the person or their feelings.
Focusing on apologizing for the wrong reasons can make things worse than it already is. If you are not honest with yourself (mentally and emotionally) and accept that the fault may be on you, chances are you might end up hurting someone more than how they were feeling before.
Take responsibility and do not be defensive
It is like swallowing a bitter pill to take responsibility for their actions and apologize for some individuals. Still, you have understood that if someone apologizes, they are aware of what they did wrong.
Suppose the person is not apologizing or making excuses/defending themselves when there was no need to do so because deep down, they know what happened wasn’t right. In that case, this only shows that they are unwilling to change their ways, and if this is the case, then one should distance themselves from such people as much as possible.
Defending yourself or making excuses will only make matters worse. In situations like this, you must apologize even though it might be difficult because at least the other person will see you as a natural person for who you and they will know that you do care about their feelings and your actions.
Apologizing shows respect for the person, even though it might be hard sometimes, but if we want others to treat us with dignity, why should we not give them the same treatment? So whenever you think of apologizing because someone’s words have hurt you or done something that has made you feel bad, make sure that the apology is genuine, and just because you have done something wrong doesn’t mean you are a horrible person.
Having courage tells the person a lot about you as a person. It says that you respect yourself enough to admit when you are wrong and take responsibility. You are someone worth having in life because you are considerate of other people’s feelings and emotions.
Do not minimize the situation and be sincere
I cannot stress this enough, some people make these mistakes, and it is terrible to do because you are apologizing for something. Your words lack remorse, or the apology is not genuine, then you are missing out on regain trust and respect.
People tend to make these mistakes because they try to act like it was no big deal and feel that the person overreacts over minor things to make themselves feel better, but when you do this, it shows the other person that your apology is not genuine.
When someone apologizes for something and tries to downplay their actions or make an excuse or minimize the situation, it is a sign of insincerity and tells you a lot about that person. In other words, they can hurt you again, and they honestly do not regret their actions, so it was never a sincere apology, and similar scenarios will happen again.
People who are genuinely sorry about what happened respect how others feel about the situation and take responsibility for their mistakes. They may not make any difference instantly. Still, you can see that they make efforts to make changes in life.
For example, when you commented on certain things of another person’s belonging, make fun of it.
You may not know that it could be of emotional significance to the other person or that they spent some time and love on it or was given by someone special to them.
You never know, which is also why you need to listen and not downplay the situation; through listening, you will learn to understand better the reaction and why you are apologizing.
Be remorseful and seek forgiveness
Saying sorry is one thing, but being sorry is another. Saying it with remorse makes you feel the weight of your words and gives meaning to what you are apologizing for, and that is why when we apologize or say I’m sorry, it should come from a place where our heart feels genuine sorrow or guilt about any wrongdoing.
Last but not least, seek forgiveness because asking for forgiveness shows that you are completely sincere about what happened and not just sorry but also willing to make things right between the two of you.
Finally, when you apologize for something and do so with sincerity, it can make a massive difference to the person hurt by your actions. The person will understand that there are people who genuinely care about how they feel and want them to know that their feelings matter.
When in doubt or if you’re still not sure, you can always apologize and share your point of view and explain yourself as well.
People make mistakes all the time, but when apologizing for those mistakes or hurting someone else with our actions, we need to show true remorsefulness. Otherwise, the apology will come off insincere and worthless, which in return may cause more damage than good.
Making amends to the situation
Put some effort into making things right and better because if there are changes in behavior, people will know that you genuinely mean what you said when apologizing. Imagine if someone did that to you; how would you feel knowing they made no effort to correct their mistake?
Let me put an example for you. I am sure everyone met one or more in your life.
- Incident 1 – Meet a friend for dinner at 5 o’clock; he showed up 2 hours later telling you he has urgent business and apologizes.
- Incident 2 -Meet the same friend again for dinner at 5 o’clock, once again late, maybe 1 hour this time, he apologizes and tells you there was a traffic jam.
The same incident happens a few times, and he is always late for appointments; what does that tell you about his apologies? Clearly, he is not sorry for being late, and others will quickly notice this behavior and mindset. It also tells you that his apologies are just empty words with no real meaning behind them.
People are quick to say sorry because of guilt or fear, but the actions that follow will take you a lot further than just words. Saying sorry does not mean that everything is okay and all is well between the two of you. It is the value of the sorry that is important and the follow-up action after apologizing.
Moving forward and learn from the mistakes
If you had made efforts and in accepting you are wrong and apologized for your actions. Then it is time to take action and learn from the mistakes you may have made, pick the pieces, and start moving forward.
It would be best not to get too caught up in whether they will forgive or forget your actions because you will never know. Don’t get me wrong. You may wonder then why should I apologize? The point is not everything can be forgiven by you saying sorry. There are consequences to everything, and what is important here is you taking responsibility and sincerely expressing remorse. What matters most here is your mindset towards this situation, in which you must learn from this mistake, so it does not happen again.
If you had been genuine, sincere, remorseful, and made efforts to change and improve the situation, there is only so much you can do. There will always be people who take advantage of your kindness. You cannot get too hung up with it. The bottom line is that you step up, try, learn, and move forward; if the person refuses to appease the situation, this is no longer within your control.
Final Thoughts on how to apologize to someone you hurt
Apologizing does not have to be difficult, as long you know what you’re doing and are willing to work for forgiveness from the person you wronged in your relationship with them. If apologizing was easy enough just to have a conversation, then everyone would do that already! Each apology has its unique elements, which make up how successful it can be when given or received by both parties involved. When determining whether an apology will go well, it’s essential to think about your relationship with the person.
Making amends is never simple but doesn’t have to be complicated if we understand some guidelines on making apologies effective. It doesn’t always come easy because each one needs their unique elements incorporated into giving/receiving it successfully between two affected people.