by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
Apologies usually come when you are upset. Not the easiest time to actually hear someone out. But for the sake of your relationship, at least give the other person a chance to apologize and explain.
One mistake is just one part of the whole person. Step back and think about the whole, not the part. (If it becomes a pattern, then that is a bigger concern, of course depending how the other person wronged you.)
- Listen calmly to the person’s apology. Let them complete their apology before responding with your own thoughts. Pay attention to what they say – their apology might reveal that they see the situation that led to your being hurt differently than you do. Pay special attention to why they say they’re sorry – it will give you insight as to their personal character.
- Don’t interrupt while they’re apologizing unless they say something especially thoughtless. If they’re being sincere in their apology, they deserve, at the very least, to be listened to.
- Accept the apology when it’s sincerely given. You can tell the difference. If it wasn’t given honestly, there was no apology, thus nothing to accept. Don’t just say “Oh forget it,” “You don’t have to apologize,” “It was nothing.” It’s too easy to go there when everyone is clearly uncomfortable. But you both know it really was something. A fuller apology includes the words “I accept your apology.”
“We all make mistakes. I accept your apology.” “After thinking it through, I realize this was just a misunderstanding and that you didn’t mean to hurt me. I accept your apology.”
- Tell the person that you forgive them. This will be cathartic for both of you. You will be able to give up some of your resentment and begin healing your wound. He or she will be able to begin letting go of the guilt they feel for hurting you. Trust that the incident will never reoccur. Try to put it out of your mind completely and focus on the positive aspects of your relationship.
Truly accepting an apology means that you have thought it through, acknowledged that the other person made a mistake, and embraced the fact that he is sorry. While you might still be a bit angry, you are on your way to letting go of that in favor of a solid relationship once again.
Saying that you accept the apology means that you are willing to put an end to the argument in such a way that it will not continue to be an issue going forward. Do not keep bringing up the issue or continue reminding him about what happened.