Updated: Nov 10
We don’t live without making mistakes and needing to apologize here and there. We’ve all been in situations before where we just don’t know how or where to even begin to apologize. However, when you fail to apologize, things like peace and energy degrade. Once your peace is disrupted, your energy may be blocked if you disregard the need to apologize or compound the mistake.
Here’s the thing: You know it when you need to apologize. The trouble is, sometimes we just don’t even know how to deal with situations properly and often time passes and we don’t know how to go back and make amends. Perhaps you’ve done something egregious or left someone worse off than when you first encountered them. Perhaps you’re trying to hope everyone just forgets about it and moves on.
It’s important to apologize when you’ve offended someone. Whether or not that person is wrong or if you think what you did wasn’t so bad, apologize no matter what. I love this wisdom from Dr. Ronald Siegel:
“To preserve or re-establish connections with other people, you have to let go of concerns about right and wrong and try instead to understand the other person’s experience,” says Dr. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
The ability to apologize in a heartfelt manner shows higher emotional intelligence. This helps you be your best in all moments and to have successful interpersonal relationships.
Another scenario I see often in my coaching practice is people haven’t healed their own past. A person may have been wronged before and had a bad example as to how to conduct themselves or have issues that trigger their unhealed past. A person may harbor ill will or a grudge and hold on to it, often hurting themselves more than the person they really need to apologize to. Often people don’t apologize because they think they are the victor in the situation. In this scenario the person feels they are right and the other person is just wrong. They don’t recognize their role in the situation they helped create. Often no apologies result in either direction in this case.
Here are five ways to give the best apology you can give.
1. Take Ownership and Accept Responsibility
This can be a broad statement. To bring it close to home, in this case, it means for you to do the apologizing and/or forgiveness and to be the one who opens the door to clear the peace and energy. This is free from blame and just pure responsibility and higher emotional intelligence. To do this, you can start with a sentence like this: I accept responsibility for my part in this kerfuffle and I’m sorry for my behavior and actions. You can insert other words and fiddle around with the wording here, but you get the drift: You are in the driver’s seat, no matter what the other person or people do. Do not create additional ache, hurt, drama for yourself or another.
2. Think Heart to Heart
When you don’t see eye-to-eye, see heart-to-heart. Especially if feathers are ruffled, this is a big step to shift the energy of the situation and navigate from your heart. Treat another’s heart as if it is your own. You might have a host of negative emotional energy at play and it is important to process it. Do so in a manner that isn’t right over wrong or blame and so forth, but rather with kindness and compassion.
3. Don’t Expect
You can’t control how you are perceived or received, ever. So don’t expect anything. In your heart and mind, you may have played out a scenario where all is forgiven and the world is right again. Well, it might not be, so take control of yourself and pay attention to how you feel. Allow the apology to percolate and for the next whatever-it-is to unfold.
4. Be Specific, Clear and Concise
Apologies don’t need to drone on and on. They also don’t necessarily need to be in person. You may need padding or distance. The best way to deliver an apology is to be specific, clear, and concise and select the appropriate format. If tempers are flared, you may want space. If it is a smaller spat, maybe saying you’re sorry and giving a hug is all that person may need to move on. Be safe, on point, and don’t create more drama.
5. Move on
Often people avoid apologizing for the fear that it will drudge up more drama, more ache, and that “some things are better left unsaid” vibe. That is all real and important to acknowledge. Review steps 1-4 above, deliver the apology and move on. If someone can’t move on, it’s important that you move on. The other part of moving on is to not bring up the ache or injustice in a future argument or tussle as well. Again, move ahead. Go forward with positive energy and percolate peace.
You may never get the apology you seek from another person. However, if you owe someone an apology and you know it deep down and haven’t yet apologized, make sure you do. All you can control is you. It clears the energy and allows you and possibly others involved to move forward. There are so many ways to avoid apologizing and so many excuses as well as scenarios. It is often just best to always do your part and apologize. The point of an apology is to account for your behavior and actions. You also open the door to forgiveness for all involved.
About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
As the CEO and founder, guiding spirit and energy behind the Best Ever You brand, Elizabeth brings audiences together with the encouragement and inspiration. She understands firsthand the challenges of life, work, family, change and struggle can bring and has worked with people worldwide to illuminate their light within and help them uncover their best life and a better way forward.
Elizabeth is the host of the long-standing podcast, The Best Ever You Show, which has millions of listeners and downloads. She is a bestselling author of multiple books in the children’s book genres and in the self-help category, including the bestselling and award-winning books PERCOLATE – Let Your Best Self Filter Through and The Change Guidebook. Elizabeth’s gratitude-based belief systems and behavior have helped people to transform their lives by using her unique blend of humility and world class excellence as a guide. Elizabeth's new book, The Success Guidebook, is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold.