Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anatomy of an Apology

An apology is used to express one's regret or remorse for the harm and pain he or she has caused. A apologetic person can seek forgiveness but may also try to heal his or her own pain. It can also be an effective action toward reconciliation, whether it is in a personal or business relationship. A complete, meaningful and proper apology requires certain elements to convince the person one apologizes to that it is sincere.

An Apology Should Contain...
  • Accountability
  • Acknowledgement
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Expressing Regrets
  • Asking for Forgiveness
  • Pledge, Promise
  • Form of Restitution

Accountability
An apologetic person should present a detailed account of the situation for which it requires an apology. The specificity will convince the person that you are sincere and will increase the likelihood to be believed when you will tell the person that you are genuinely willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Failing to provide an accurate account of the events may also entirely invalidate your apology, for the simple reason that you should apologize for the same situation the person expects an apology for.

Acknowledgement
An apologetic person should acknowledge the damage or pain done by his or her actions. The specificity will convince the person that you fully understand the consequences of your actions and will also increase the likelihood to be believed when you will tell the person that you are genuinely willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Failing to provide an accurate acknowledgement may also convince the person that you are careless about the consequences of your actions and becomes a failure to validate the person's feelings.

Taking Responsibility
An apologetic person should provide a statement in which he or she takes full responsibility for his or her actions in the situation. Recognizing your role in the situation and taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions is an important step before apologizing. Offering excuses, explanations or any form of rationalization for your actions will appear as an attempt to diminish your role in the situation and avoid taking responsibility for your actions.

Expressing Regrets, Asking for Forgiveness, and a Promise
An apologetic person should express his or her regrets or remorses at this point. The preamble has been laid out in a detailed manner and in such way that your regrets accompanied with an apology will be heard and, most likely, believed. Ask for forgiveness but don't force it and don't expect it. This is where you hand back the power to the person, in a great act of humility. A sincere promise that it won't happen again may also help to obtain forgiveness and eventually rebuild a relationship.

Form of Restitution
An apologetic person should offer a form of restitution, whenever possible, to repair the damages done. This is an opportunity to make it right and possibly remedy the situation. A detailed statement including the actions taken to correct the problem and expressing your commitment to avoid the same mistakes in the future will be highly regarded by the person you are apologizing to.

A Final Word...
The lack of sincerity at any point may defeat and completely invalidate your efforts to apologize. Be clear, accurate and do not bring unrelated matter in your apology. There is no point to apologize when an apologetic person only seeks to gain from the apology. An apology is being at the mercy of another and recognizing that you are a fallible person, which is one of the reasons why people take too long to apologize (or never do).

Take time to reflect upon what you did wrong but don't let a situation unresolved for months because it may well have degraded to a point that it is impossible to fix, especially in the situations where the harm is extreme. Never assume a problematic situation is minor. Give time for the person to think about your apology but don't expect a response and don't push for one.

all this for a better world...

2 comments:

  1. Interesting article, Ian.

    Hehe, am I right to believe it was written exclusively in my honor ? I suppose so. Anyway I just want to let you know that I’ve read it carefully, with respect.

    Nevertheless, I hope to bring more points to your article.

    First of all make sure your arguments aren’t only ‘one-way’. They seem to favor only one party as if it was spotless and immaculate. Sometimes the party that got injured also harmed the other one at several reprises in the past (low respect, discrimination, egoism, jealousy, bad intents/thoughts, ect). A quarrel is the result of collective mistakes, and two parties need to take account of the situation for which it requires mutual apologies - or reconciliation.

    YOU SAID:
    A apologetic person can seek forgiveness but may also try to heal his or her own pain.


    Or an apologetic person can also feel pity and compassion for its injured friend. That’s how good people can feel. They don’t ask anything in return except for hoping redemption and liberation for their old friend.

    ‘Initial’ excuses can be interpreted like an act of humility. Offering them isn’t something easy - or lazy. Especially not when the other party can egoistically interpret them like a personal conquest and try to take control.

    As you stated some people never offer apologizes in a whole lifetime – In all due respect, I believe you’re among them.

    YOU SAID:
    Form of Restitution
    An apologetic person should offer a form of restitution, whenever possible, to repair the damages done. This is an opportunity to make it right and possibly remedy the situation. A detailed statement including the actions taken to correct the problem and expressing your commitment to avoid the same mistakes in the future will be highly regarded by the person you are apologizing to.


    Let's put the interpersonal tenses aside now.

    We quarreled four times since we know each other. I apologized each time, and you never offered the slightest sign of remorse for your wrongdoing. Never. You had nine years to think about it. Rather you made me feel as if I was indebted to you each time (which never was very pleasant) – thus I believe this ‘form of restitution’ is a act of manipulation (weither it’s done consciously of not), and as far as I’m concerned I’m determinate not to let anyone manipulate my kind nature again.

    Let’s remind that ‘culpability’ is one of the most powerful objects of control in this world.

    If the price of your ‘restitution’ is as overpriced as –let’say- L10n Tool, I’ll suck up to you for lifetime. Worst, you will never offer excuse and you'll keep behave in a displeasant way.

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  2. A final Word...

    I offered my excuses, I’m glad I did it, but, I’m not taking full responsibility as you would like. It would be lazy/coward of me and hypocrite of you. It wouldn’t serve any good purpose. It could simply end to slow your progress with your personal growth, and no one hope this.

    I’m doing something better instead: if God is witnessing this I clearly want to spell out that you’re clean with me. You’re totally forgiven. I’ve forgiven you for everything you’ve done and what I’ve endured. I ask nothing in return. No restitution. All your debts are erased as far as I’m concerned. That's the most important part of my message.

    Now. If you don’t want to offer apologies on your side, that’s your business. I don’t seek for an answer coming from you. And anyway, ‘forgiving’ you made me automatically accepts your apologies, and that, even if you never offer them. Finally. weither you decide to ‘forgive’ me or ‘curse’ me is your business as well. If any unresolved debt floats over my head I’ll solve them with God and Him alone.

    Reconciliation isn’t my chief objective. My goal is to turn over a new leaf and make sure I could pardon you before the old pages are burnt.If you want to become friend again I'll want to see positive improvements with your behavior. Otherwise I'm not interested.

    P.S. I’m keeping reading your stuff on your blog on a daily basis. It’s not because we had disagreements that I’m not interested in your article on technology.

    Have a good Christmas period with your family. I truly hope you’ll use this time to meditate and receive some warmth in your heart. That's my wish regarding you.

    Good Luck!

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