I know I’m not the only person who still feels slightly empty after the off-hand “sorry” that comes after a mistake is made. I noticed this was an issue for me early in my relationship with my husband. I found that a “sorry” was not enough for me. Not to say I did not appreciate the word, however, I felt that I needed to feel understood more than anything. These are the three steps to take to effectively communicate an apology to your significant other:
- Say the words. As mentioned, the words “I’m sorry” are both valuable and appreciated by most. It is the most integral part of an apology. However, these words cannot stand alone to communicate true remorse for a significant mistake.
- State the mistake. Rather than following the apology with silence or a blank stare, show your significant other that you understand what was done incorrectly by stating what your mistake was immediately after (e.g. “I’m sorry I interrupted you”). This will demonstrate to the other person that you are aware of what your mistake actually was and helps with closure.
- Assure it will not re-occur. Immediately after step 2, make an agreement with your significant other that it will not occur again. However, it is paramount that you make a promise you can keep. It is acceptable to most to stand behind progress. That is, “I’ll continue to work on this”, though it must be followed with a “by” statement. (E.g. “I’ll continue to work on this by waiting until you pause before I give my piece”).
One apology should not lead to another. Do not make an agreement to better yourself, if you are unable to. It is always best to be honest with your abilities. The key to an effective apology, and what is outlined in the three steps above, is to communicate thoroughly. By calmly following the three steps, you will convey your message more effectively and therefore, end the conversation more positively.