Conflict Resolution: How To Apologize Gracefully

No matter how fantastic your relationship is, there are going to be times when you screw up. We’re only human and we all make mistakes. Whether you say something particularly mean in the heat of an argument, or do something far more serious, you’re going to have to apologize every now and again. As such, it’s pretty important to know how to apologize the right way.

Sometimes a simple “sorry” just doesn’t cut it. In fact, if you do a poor job of apologizing, you may find yourself getting into a whole new argument with your S.O. and you’ll never reach a conflict resolution. A truly good, genuine apology, however, can be like a well-executed set of stitches. Not only does it close the wound you’ve opened up, but it can minimize the chance of future emotional scarring.

Mean What You Say

Though it may seem obvious, one of the most important ways to apologize properly is to really mean it. If your apology is cast off carelessly just to end the fight at hand, it won’t be believable. An insincere apology will only rile your mate up, not satisfy their need for appeasement. Instead of hastily saying you’re sorry, hear your partner’s argument all the way through.

Then pause to consider what you’ve done wrong, and genuinely apologize for it. It can be hard to acknowledge your own wrong-doing, but if you really love your partner, you need to admit that you did something wrong and are really sorry about it. If you’re not really sorry, then you need to call a time out on the argument so you can think more by yourself.

Choose Your Words Carefully

When you actually go about apologizing, you really need to be careful with your word choice. Saying things like “I’m sorry you’re so angry” or “I’m sorry that you don’t approve of what I did” isn’t really apologizing and won’t do anything for actual conflict resolution. That’s just turning things around on your partner under the guise that you’re sorry. You need to actually take responsibility for your actions when you apologize (i.e. “I’m sorry that I forgot to mail our rent check this month”.)

You also need to be careful with your tone. Don’t yell your apology angrily, and don’t let sarcasm creep into your voice. Take a good, deep breath to calm yourself down before you start speaking. If your S.O. starts to interrupt you as you’re talking, just let them. After they’ve said their piece, start your apology again. If you keep your cool, even if your partner can’t, your apology will feel more genuine.

See Your Partner’s Point Of View

To further improve upon your apology, make sure to acknowledge that you understand where your partner is coming from. Simply stating that you get why they’re mad shows a level of empathy and regret that they’ll appreciate. If you really want to win them over, say that you want to discuss how to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

Ask for their advice and input. Inviting them to help figure out the best conflict resolution reminds them that you really do value their opinion and their role in your life. Part of apologizing is not only showing that you are truly sorry for what you’ve done, but also showing that you want to keep from repeating your mistakes in the future. A hug and a kiss once you’ve both calmed down never hurts, either!


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