Sunday, January 18, 2015

Apologizing With Grace

We all make mistakes, say things the wrong way, speak too quickly or inadvertently hurt someone we care about. To err is human. However, to make amends when we have erred is important to heal and sustain healthy relationships. To be able to put one's ego or shame aside and truly be accountable for our mistakes is a valuable practice.

Huffington Post writer Jonathan Alpert, suggested 8 ways to apologize and do it well:

1. Own it: Tell your friend, colleague or loved one what you did wrong. Do it face to face. By speaking and owning your error you take responsibility and demonstrate accountability.

2. Don't make excuses: Alpert coaches to "be direct and say what happened." Explaining away your action takes away the opportunity to make something right.

3. Keep it simple: If we say too much or rant, we may be trying to rationalize our errant behavior. Healing requires ownership, whatever the reason for our hurtful words or actions.

4. Be specific: Name exactly what you did that hurt your friend or loved one. If you raised your voice, say "I'm sorry I raised my voice," rather than saying "I'm sorry you did not like my tone of voice." Owning what you did is more powerful than talking about the other person's reaction.

5. Speak from your heart: Sharing your heartfelt feelings makes a huge difference when someone you care about is hurt. Showing that you care about the impact of your words or actions, and that you really understand is a critical part of healing.

6. Put yourself in the other person's shoes: Alpert suggests you ask yourself how the person you hurt felt emotionally. Did your scare them? Hurt them? Demonstrate empathy for the other person.

7. Ask yourself what you could have done differently: Often when your words or actions hurt another person, there might have been another and better way to handle the situation. Might you have slowed down and taken a few deep breaths before you spoke or acted? Did you react and act from a place of reaction? Letting your loved one know you realize you could have handled the situation another way, shows awareness and evening learning.

8. Take action to change your behavior: If you discover you have anger management issues, seek therapy to look at the roots of your anger. If you need help looking at how to say something more respectfully, let yourself get coaching. If you find yourself triggered, learn how to manage your triggers. We don't want to keep repeating hurtful patterns. Better to learn what they are rooted in and learn how to communicate in a less hurtful way.

These 8 points are included in "How to Apologize And Get It Right" by Jonathan Alpert in the Huffington Post.