I’m quite a tolerant person and I understand that people, especially children, aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes and to me, it’s really important that we acknowledge when we make a mistake and that we apologise to anyone our mistake has affected.
I’ve always tried to teach the kids that it’s not just the saying sorry that matters because, let’s face it, anyone can say the word sorry. That’s not hard at all (unless you’re Mr Frugal), is it?
What is hard is acting like you’re sorry an showing the person you’re apologising to that you really mean it.
As the parent of a teenager and an almost teenager, I’ve lost track of the times that one of them has apologised to me in a tone of voice that clearly indicates that they’re not sorry at all. These kinds of apologies are usually accompanied with some eye rolling and the occasional sigh have no sincerity at all and are not acceptable in any way.
When that happens I tell them to go to their rooms and think about why they need to apologise and to only come back when they’re out of any strop that they’re in and can apologise genuinely.
That’s how I deal with the kids but Mr Frugal is a whole other matter! He’s an extremely laid back kind of person and we rarely argue but when we do, he finds it very hard to apologise – mainly because he has a stubborn streak that only shows it’s face when I push him in an argument. He’s rather just give me a hug and act like he’s sorry but to me, actually saying the words in one way or another is important (that’s my stubborn streak showing itself).
Luckily we don’t argue often but for next time we do, here’s a list of 7 ways to say sorry AND show that you mean it….
Right a wrong with the written word
Thanks to technology, people barely own a pen these days, let alone actually write to each other, unless it’s Christmas or a birthday. Snapchatting a selfie or tweeting a selection of emojis is so much quicker and easier.
But a handwritten letter or note tells someone you’ve really thought about them, that they mean something special to you. Because writing a handwritten letter, on luxury paper, takes much more time, consideration, cost and effort than a text.
A heartfelt apology written in your own hand will t prove to them you’re serious. For extra thoughtfulness, don’t announce your apology or hand it to them. Instead, tuck your letter inside the book they’re reading, pop it under their pillow or lip it in their briefcase, rucksack or purse. The surprise will add to the sincerity as long as you make sure that you don’t hide it so well that they won’t discover it for hours.
Say it with a song
Adele and Justin Bieber have both had a crack at this recently, with mega hits “Hello” and “Sorry”, but the history of popular music is awash with apologies. Everyone from Elton John to Nirvana have penned odes to their deepest regrets. When Bono forgot his wife’s birthday one year, he penned, “Sweetest Thing” for her. If it worked for them, maybe it’ll work for you.
Write your own song, record it on your phone and give them a Boombox so they can listen to your heartfelt apology while watching you breakdance. Making a fool of yourself will show them the depths you’re willing to go to make it up to them. If you’re no troubadour, go retro and make them a mix tape of their favourite songs.
Showing the world you’re sorry
Minor crimes and marital disharmony were resolved in the Middle Ages by clapping people in chains and wheeling out the pillory and stocks. You’ll find most stocks are exhibits in museums these days, but there are plenty of places you can still be pilloried. Online, mostly. Where better than a social network to post the error of your ways? Or, surprise your loved one at work during their lunch break. A “pop-up” apology will show them you’ve gone out of your way to prove how sorry you are and spark some intrigue among their colleagues as to why you showed up.
Old reliable with a twist
Flowers are an age-old apology favourite. But don’t think you can buy your way out of trouble, especially if you only ever buy flowers when you’ve done something wrong. That said, and depending on what you’ve done, sometimes buying a beautiful bunch of flowers will be your best option.
Carnations, hyacinths and roses are traditionally associated with apologies. But, a sincere apology might take a bit more forethought than the flowers you can find on a forecourt. The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers has one day courses, kicking off with a visit to the New Covent Garden Market, before going back to the academy to learn how to make them into a beautiful hand tied bouquet.
Go big, or get packing
Save this for the major cluster bombs that pepper a lifetime of navigating relationships. Big mistakes need big gestures. So, why not take your apology to the next level and fly it across the sky on an airplane banner? Often used for advertising, the same companies specialise in personalised messages to loved ones – marriage proposals included. Just sayin’…
Or go small
Sometimes a little means a lot. If they’re into their tech, a quirky, cheeky or retro gadget could be just the ticket. Or, if a gizmo isn’t going to get your apology accepted, unleash your inner Kirsty Allsopp – even if you have no haberdashery skills – and make them a handmade gift to show them you went above and beyond. If it turns out less than impressive, it may still win them over because it’s the thought that counts! Failing that, how about an exploding DIY box?
Offer a scientifically validated apology
Apologies are much simpler than you might imagine. Listen to, and empathise with how the other person feels. Show your understanding of their perspective. Accept responsibility for your role in the situation and the effect your actions had on the other person. Then look them in the eye and offer a genuine and unconditional apology. Finally – hopefully – offer to make amends.
A word of warning though: you can’t merely follow the steps. You must mean each and every one of them, otherwise the other person won’t think you’re being sincere and you’re back to square one.
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