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Let’s face it, we’re all human, we all make mistakes—and sometimes those mistakes hurt the people we love. When that happens—we must apologize. I have found that the older I get, the less I have to apologize to my friends (now my husband—that’s a different story for a different time.) I have a feeling that it’s because we aren’t spending a huge amount of time together so there aren’t as many opportunities to screw up. Also, I’m not 15 anymore—and with age comes wisdom, right? So maybe I just know how to hold my tongue or think before I speak more now than I did then. I think.
With all that said, I still mess up from time to time—usually it is by speaking without taking into full account all the reproductions. Sometimes words and truth hurt and my delivery isn’t always the greatest. It’s something I have always struggled with. There have also been times in my adult life where I have gossiped about or judged someone’s situation and it has gotten back to that person. It’s ugly, folks—but it is real life. I have really tried to reign in the gossiping issue over the past few years. It’s not like I was sitting around, texting deep dark secrets to all my friends. No, I was doing it like Christians do—
“So-and-so needs prayer because she is having marital problems.”
Is prayer a good thing? Of course. The more prayer the better! But please just keep your intentions in mind. Are you sharing the prayer request because you really feel it needs more prayer? Or are you using prayer requests as a loophole to gossip?
Put yourself in your friend’s shoes so that you can truly understand why they are hurt. I know for me, I sometimes speak before I think and that can be hurtful (as I said above). My intention is never to hurt somebody, but it happens—and I don’t want to let a silly little miscommunication turn into a big problem.
The structure below has helped me learn to apologize and is a great way to think about how the other person is feeling, and then voice it to them. Remember, once the other person feels understood, then true communication can happen.
I will also add that once you learn this basic structure, it will become natural and it won’t come out sounding like a script.
Try this basic structure:
- “I’m sorry for……”
- “It was wrong because……”
- “Next time I will……”
- “Is there anything I can do?”
No question–apologizing is tough, but it is also very disarming and can take a very intense situation from a level 10 to a level 2, and when you’re dealing with hurt feelings, that’s very important.
On a final note–sometimes sorry isn’t enough—it’s true. No matter how heartfelt it is, no matter how much you mean it, no matter how much energy you put into that letter, and no matter how much you want it—it might not be enough. And you just have to be ready to accept that.