The Keys to Constructing an Effective Apology
Apologies are tools with which we acknowledge violations of social expectations or norms, take responsibility for the impact of our actions on others, ask their forgiveness, and by doing so, repair ruptures in our relationships, restore our social standing, and ease feelings of guilt. This formulation implies that for an apology to be effective it must have the following key ingredients:
1. A clear ‘I’m sorry’ statement.
2. An expression of regret for what happened.
3. An acknowledgment that social norms or expectations were violated.
4. An empathy statement acknowledging the full impact of our actions on the other person.
5. A request for forgiveness. The most important of these five ingredients and sadly, the one we tend to omit most often, is the empathy statement. In order for the other person to truly forgive us, they need to feel as though we ‘get’ the full implications of our actions on them Doing so convincingly is harder than it might seem.