No one is in the right every single time they get into a disagreement. It would be nice to think that we don’t go barging into discussions or arguments without being prepared to accept the truth if we don’t have all the facts.
But people often do. Even if they enter into a debate with the noblest of intentions, emotions get heated, people get carried away, things get said that can’t be unsaid.
Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes hurt people.
And, then, the right thing to do is to apologise. Accept that you were in the wrong and take responsibility for your actions.
On the surface of it, it seems straight forward enough. Go back to the person you wronged and tell them you’re sorry. Simple.
Except, that’s not really apologising.
That’s paying lip service, but it’s not really showing that you understand what you did wrong or why you need to apologise. It might gloss over the issue and maybe it’ll be enough for you all to move on. But it doesn’t really fix anything unless you go a bit deeper.
GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE ARGUMENT
Replay it, as accurately as you can, in your mind. It doesn’t matter how far back you have to go. If this is something that has come up over and over again, think about the first time it happened. Really try to explore why it hasn’t gone away. Don’t gloss over the parts you don’t like. Think about everything that they did and everything that you did, away from the heat of the moment, calmly and objectively.
CONSIDER THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY
Think about where they were coming from, think about what they might be reacting to in terms of how you behaved. Think about how you’d react if you were arguing with you. Empathise with their argument – again, without any of the negative or unruly emotions of being there in the middle of it all. How would you take it if you were in their shoes? How would you feel? Would you be comfortable with how things went?
ACCEPT ANY TIME YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN OUT OF LINE
Be honest with yourself about your own behaviour. Stop acting like you were perfect or your apology will never be sincere. That doesn’t mean that you have to pretend that they were an angel. But make sure you have a firm understand of what you did wrong, or anything you may have done that could have hurt them, or anything that was offensive or insulting. Accept that these are mistakes you have made.
TELL THEM WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED FROM THE PROCESS
Talk to them about your reflections. Let them know that you understand what they went through and that you are aware that you are at fault. Open the whole problem up to a calm and civilised discussion, if they are prepared to have one.
Tell them everything that you are sorry for and why. That doesn’t mean absolving them of all blame – in many conflicts, both sides are at least a little at fault, even if one has a stronger argument. Let them know that you accept your share of the responsibility for any wrongdoing and genuinely want to be able to move on.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.