I’ve edited and re-published this post today.
Gary Chapman has a Â somewhat similar sounding book [I’ve not read it], to my model for a complete apology, based on how one would want to be apologized-to. It’s important to find the right style in which the Other prefers to receive apologies.Â I think incorporating all these aspects into all meaningful apologies is neither excessive nor inappropriate. Diplomacy and good manners are never inappropriate, and often they make close relationships possible and stronger. Â Here’s an outline of my thoughts – do let me know how this works for you.
1. First, an authentic ” I’m sorry”, with full acknowledgement of the other’s hurt and pain;
2. and “I won’t do it again” and/or “I’m Really working on that” – if you can’t yet permanently promise not to do it again, you can say “I’ll do my absolute best not to do it again”, and do your best
3. then, “And how can I make it up to you?” Making amends is critical, so after they have enough time to consider, accept any reasonable request. If you know an action/whatever that might help balance the emotional “books”, you can also offer something specific, for example ” I’ll do Â …../ a household task for an appropriate time period” Negotiate if what’s asked is more than feels really right to you. If they say “Nothing” or “That’s OK”, suggest that something might come to one of your minds after a while, and be open to that.
4. If you agree to do something, do it promptly, completely and willingly;
5. Then both people can set it aside and forget it, because it’s over. Focus on being in the Present – dragging around pain from the past, remembering /playing it out in your mind again, or bringing it up again will not make anything better, so work at being present centered.
I’ve never seen or personally had a really close relationship which didn’t experience multiple regrettable incidents over time, both with family and friends: small, medium, large and gigantic. This model assumes forgiveness [and self-forgiveness] is possible, and offers a useful, systematic option to work through the inevitable unfortunate occurrences in real life relationships, which would otherwise destroy the relationship.
To my great chagrin, I’ve just had opportunity to use this model connected with a big mistake I made, and we’re processing it together now in group therapy. Dr Bob
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