We are human. Thus, we are fallible. Sooner or later, we will make a mistake. Maybe that mistake will be an unintentional slight, stinging words, or an action more malevolently motivated.
When that happens, if we value relationships, we must apologize to bring reconciliation, to restore peace, and to continue to influence in a healthy manner. No one will be positively influenced by someone with whom they are in a damaged relationship.
But what does a proper apology look like? We’ve all received a half-hearted apology and as we are receiving it, we wonder, “Is this person truly sincere? Do they really realize the damage they have done?” Then we start to guess at the person’s motivation. “Are they simply trying to get me back in their corner?” “Do they really even care they offended me?”
Let’s look at how to offer a proper apology. This isn’t a simple formula that magically fixes damage. If used as such without genuine empathy for the hurt caused, it can actually do more damage than good. You have to get into the shoes of those you are giving the apology to before giving it.
The proper apology has four components.