We've all been there. Use these ideas to turn your slip up into a stepping stone.
Ugh. We can all relate to saying the wrong thing. To being selfish. To acting inconsiderate. It doesn't feel good, and it can be difficult to resolve. Sometimes people don't know what to do when they've wronged someone. Other times, they just don't want to do what they know is the right thing.
Let's not picture the two children on the playground forced to say, "I am sorry," to each other. The forced apology isn't what we're after here. To make things right, you may want to consider these ways to say, "I am sorry."
Say the Three Words ... Out Loud
These three words, I. Am. Sorry, have been listed among the hardest words to say (that and Worcestershire Sauce.) In all seriousness, it's hard to say, "I am sorry." You can feel vulnerable, exposed, failing, and less than. But there's such strength in these words as well. These words of attempted reconciliation open the other person up for possibilities of healing.
There's something powerful about saying (and hearing) the three words spoken out loud. It can be tempting to quickly text an apology or just let the matter go. Though unresolved hurt can grow into something bigger down the road. Be intentional and find a way to say, "I am sorry," in person.
Seek to Learn
We can offend someone out of ignorance. We didn't realize that our off-handed comment triggered something from their past. Or we haven't taken the time to know his or her story to empathize and navigate natural differences well. We all have differences, and we can benefit from learning from one another. People can be tempted to allow differences to divide us, rather than strengthening us together as a whole.
Once you have apologized and admitted your lack of knowledge, the other party may need time to process the interaction. If so, graciously give them that time. When it's appropriate, consider asking questions to learn: "Can you help me understand ... ?", "I've been wrong in my assumptions, can you tell me more about your experience with ... ?"
Consider a Gift
We suggest this with a heap of caution. In no way should you use a gift to "sweet talk" or "suck up" to someone. When you are truly remorseful for something you've said or done, you can consider purchasing or making a small gift. Especially if your misstep cost the other person financially or inconvenienced them in some way; a gift can communicate your genuine desire for reconciliation.
Pick up their favorite drink at the local coffee shop, or consider a new book they've been wanting to purchase. Take the time to think about what they would appreciate. And don't forget a meaningful card to go with the gift.
Seek a Common Ground
Saying, "I am sorry," doesn't need to communicate that you completely agree with the other person. It's okay (and even healthy) to disagree if you disagree well. During an argument, you may have said hurtful things or acted in a way that threatened your friendship. For that, you can (and should) apologize. Own your emotions and actions, and take the time to make amends.
It can be challenging to find common ground when you disagree. Once you have apologized for your actions, consider asking deeper questions in an attempt to find a common ground with your friend. Consider conversation starters like: "I know we disagree, but I want to hear more about ..." "It's okay if we don't agree on this. I want our friendship to be stronger than that."
Write a Note
When we have upset someone, that person may be unwilling to meet with us, talk on the phone, or hear what we have to say. They might be expecting the argument to continue. Despite your efforts to say, "I am sorry," in person, you might consider writing and sending a note to the person.
Did you notice this didn't say, "Send a text"? Handwriting a note takes time, energy, and a slowing down of the mind. It displays your intentionality of sharing your heart. This is not an opportunity to reiterate your side or argument. Take the time to admit you were wrong.
How have you said "I Am Sorry" today? Let us know what idea we can add to the list in the comments.