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Apologize When You're Wrong

by JACK HAMILTON

Co-Author of Conflict The Unexpected Gift

Sports reporter Jon Schultz wrote in the October 24, 2019, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, “On the eve of the Warriors’ season opener at Chase Center against the Clippers, the team’s major drama of a year ago received a dose of closure. Warriors’ forward Draymond Green accepted blame for November’s on-court blowup with Kevin Durant” that disrupted the harmony of the Warriors last season.

“I just had to accept the fact that I was wrong, and once I was able to get over my stubbornness and accept the fact I was wrong, I was able to move on,” Schultz reported Green as saying. “I never apologized to him until I came to grips myself with, ‘You were wrong, and how do you fix it?’ Not because of some games, or the team ain’t flowing right, but I can kind of see a look in my brother’s face that I have not seen. He’s hurt. How do I fix that, and that was what bothered me more than anything.”

Admitting our faults is an important first step toward making things right once again. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and do things that hurt other people at some point in our lives. That’s why it’s important to gain the ability to acknowledge our mistakes and apologize for our wrongs, even if we didn’t do them on purpose.

When we apologize, it shows the other person that we recognize the pain we caused them and are willing to make things right again. It opens the way to forgiveness and has the potential to restore a damaged relationship.

A genuine apology can make both parties feel better. When we say “sorry” in a caring way, it relieves our heart and mind. It lightens the load of resentful feelings against someone or the sense of guilt within us.

You shouldn't say, “I’m sorry” just for the sake of it. A genuine apology should come from the heart. To highlight the power of apologizing and to help you find the right steps to take to express your remorse, here are some recommendations from our book, Conflict—The Unexpected Gift: Making the most of disputes in life and work.

“When you apologize, you should, if possible, include these four aspects of an effective apology:

  • Take responsibility for the circumstances that caused another person to feel offended by acknowledging what you did.
  • State truthfully the reasons for behaving the way you did.
  • Express regrets for the action you took or the behavior you displayed that was offensive to the other person.
  • Make a sincere effort to right any wrongs you committed. Do whatever you can to help the other person recover emotionally from what you said or did.

If you make an apology that demonstrates honesty about your shortcomings and commitment to doing better, the other person may realize your behavior was unintentional and not intended to cause a conflict.”

What do you think? We'd love to hear from you!

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