Communication: Learning to Make Great Apologies

Communication: Learning to Make Great Apologies

An important part of any relationship is the amount of trust you build up between each other. How you talk, including your tone of voice, the words you choose, the message behind the words and whether or not you keep your word, influence how much trust you build.

Making great apologies are part of building trust and unfortunately, I find that most of us have not been taught how to do this.

What is a genuine apology?

In its simplest form it is telling someone you are truly sorry and that you take full responsibility for your part in whatever happened. Unfortunately, most of us have learned to justify, blame, excuse, minimize and refuse to take responsibility while not even realizing that's what we are doing.

We have learned to use sorry as a tool to demand forgiveness… as if saying 'sorry' is an automatic eraser that fixes what you have done whether you mean it or not.

We've also learned how to use these words to manipulate others by trying to guilt them into forgiving us.

We've learned a lot of these bad habits by being forced to say we were sorry when we were young. So let me digress and talk about this point for a few moments before carrying on…

Forcing someone to apologize is not rebuilding relationship or helping them heal… it is teaching them:

·         To ignore their own feelings and feel the way you are telling them to feel – i.e. you might be angry and hurt right now, but you need to ignore those feelings and be sorry instead!

·         To lie and say they are sorry when they are not

·         That apologies are a tool used to manipulate and avoid difficult situations; they might get someone else in trouble, they can be used to create guilt and they can even be used to create indebtedness or to enslave another!

Forced apologies actually deepen the distrust between the people involved because they can feel the emptiness in it. They set you up for a possible power struggle with your kids and they rob your child of the opportunity to learn how to make amends for their mistakes.

So whether you're a parent, a teacher, you work in the justice system or even if you're a conflict resolution specialist it's a good idea to take note of this and start fixing our very ineffective way of using apologies.

Tune into the show to get my 10 tips for making a great apology as well as ideas to get your kids to apologize without being forced.

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