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  • Writer's pictureAscent Leadership Program

How to make a good apology

"Apologies are the Brussels sprouts of relationships" - says author Sharon Begley.

Good for us, but often passed over. If apologies are good for us, why can it be so hard to do it? If it can lead to healing for us and the person we hurt, why do we pause? Recent research has looked at some of the barriers to apologizing from the transgressor's perspective; including a) indifference to another's pain, b) concern of fraying of the relationship and c) avoiding a threat to self-image. Sometimes, apologizing can reek havoc on our self-image as a decent, caring, sensitive and moral person. It can call additional attention to some negative aspect of our behavior, with guilt and shame, close in tow.

So what to do? Turns out, we can become more effective at apologizing when we first connect to our core values. As we connect to core values, our willingness to sincerely apologize gets a boost, as does our self-image. It relaxes the barrier of a negative self-image and helps us feel affirmed as a moral person resulting in an opportunity to change course and let the healing begin.

A high-quality apology (beyond offering only an "I'm sorry") has three elements:

1. It accepts responsibility for the wrong and doesn't hint that outside forces or the victim caused the offender to do what they did.

2. It's unqualified. It doesn't contain a "but". If relevant, any qualifications that may impact future actions, can come in later well after the injury has had time to heal.

3. It offers to make amends and a sincere effort to avoid the offense in the future.

Is there someone in your circle that needs a high-quality apology from you?

What healing is available as a result of a sincere apology?

What core values do I have that "makes the case" for an apology?

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