Learning to apologize to someone you love or in a formal relationship can make a difference.
Knowing how to ask for forgiveness when the moment requires it is one of those skills that, simple as they may seem, make a difference in personal relationships. And there are people who experience serious problems when it comes to apologizing, even if the other person is someone they love with whom they trust.
But, as with many other abilities, it is possible to learn how to apologize to someone you love or even someone with whom you have a more formal or professional relationship. Next we will see what are the keys to achieve it.
To learn to apologize, you have to change certain habits and beliefs related to self-image and expectations about how social relationships should be. Let’s see it in depth.
1. Internalize the idea that nobody is perfect
Many people who have difficulty apologizing actually have unrealistic expectations about how they should be perceived by others.
Specifically, they are overly perfectionists, and they feel a rejection of the idea of asking for forgiveness because they see this as a staging of their own failure. That is, an action that, when seen by more people, makes something subjective (“I have reasons to apologize”) is objectified.
Thus, asking someone for forgiveness involves making an effort that, at the same time, contradicts one’s own self-image, which is highly idealized.
However, it must be clear that nobody is perfect. Even the great historical figures, the most admired, seen from the present are full of failures, even mistakes that children of today would not make.
2. Get out of the self-criticism loop
Many people begin to judge themselves cruelly for not asking for forgiveness. However, this is on the one hand unnecessary and unreasonable, and on the other an excuse that justifies the absence of a proper apology. In other words, it is a strategy to purge responsibilities without having to ask for forgiveness and making everything “inside the door”, without anyone other than oneself being able to benefit from this.
That’s why it’s important to recognize this routine of thoughts for what it is: an excuse. You have to break with this cognitive ritual.
3. Practice accepting the mistake
Acceptance of error is the most mature attitude. No one can escape mistakes, as we have seen.
For this reason, it is good that you get used to performing small apology rituals, even if at first it is just asking for forgiveness for the little things of the day to day. The very fact of doing this repeatedly, progressively increasing the importance of the context in which we apologize, predisposes us to continue doing it spontaneously.
4. Train empathy
It is crucial that you dedicate efforts to empathize, to put yourself in the place of the other person cognitively and emotionally. To do this, do just that: imagine that you are that person and that you see things from their point of view. If you get used to doing this at times with a significant emotional charge, little by little it will cost you less to empathize spontaneously.
5. Concentrate on detecting the discomfort caused
Whoever intends to ask for forgiveness but cannot, surely also does not see the magnitude of the damage and inconvenience it has caused. In some ways, your own pride is more important than acknowledging to the other person that they are in an unfair situation.
That is why you have to stop and reflect on the damage that has been done; not only in the most superficial and apparent, but also in the details and indirect effects that our actions have caused.
For example, being very late for a meeting doesn’t just mean spending a few uncomfortable minutes waiting; It also means losing part of the day, or even being in a vulnerable situation if it is a meeting with potential clients, for example.
6. Make a simple script
The first few times you try to apologize by trying to make things go smoothly, you may experience a relatively high degree of anxiety. This arousal state can cause you to slip into a somewhat chaotic and disorganized pattern of behavior.
That is why it is best to make a little script about what you have to say and do. Of course, it should be very simple and brief, with two or three one-line ideas, and nothing more. If you write literally everything you want to say to yourself, this may create even more stress, since remembering everything is extra work that you don’t really have to do.
Simply remember the ideas that structure your apology and express them as they come out at the moment. It may not be perfect, but this is normal.
7. Watch what happens
Seeing how the other person reacts after we have apologized is, although it may not seem like it, the most important part of the process of learning to say sorry. The reason is that in reality this is not something we do for ourselves, but for the other person. That is why s point of view will help us to smooth out the imperfections in our way of communicating and will allow us to help others in whatever they need at that time to feel better.