I have touched on this subject in a post a while ago, but I am now dedicating an entire post to it. Now, I’m no professional apologizer; I hate admitting that I’m wrong, but I will do it. I’m sure I don’t always do it when I should, but from the opposite side, as one that wants to be apologized to, I can give a good perspective. 🙂
I think most people like to be apologized to. If you do it excessively, for things that you don’t need to apologize for, then it’s probably more like the boy who cried wolf. However, if your apologies actually mean something, people appreciate them. It seems that women need apologies more than men; that’s a common stereotype, whether it’s true or not. However, this probably couldn’t hurt to use with men also. Heck, it’s probably helpful in any type of relationship, including friends and family. So here’s my advice:
No, but seriously, just do it. I know in the case of men upsetting women, a lot of times men don’t think they’ve done anything wrong, and they don’t think the woman should be upset. However, if you’ve upset anyone and you don’t understand why and you don’t think they should be upset, this is still good advice. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think they should legitimately be upset. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you did anything wrong. If you care about them, I’m sure there’s something you’re sorry about. If the ONLY thing you’re sorry about is that they’re upset, then apologize for that. It goes something like this, “I’m sorry I upset you, that was not my intention.” And to go even further, add a “How can I fix it?” With that in mind, I’m sure you can find SOMETHING that you’re sorry about in any situation. If you’re not even sorry you upset the person, don’t apologize, because you’re not ready, but of course nothing is going to get better, because you’re a mean-spirited person. But seriously, think about anything in the situation that you ARE sorry for/about, and apologize for that, but don’t put the emphasis on the other person. “I’m sorry this makes you angry” isn’t going to go over quite as well. Take credit for whatever it is you’re apologizing for. And obviously a sarcastic tone of voice won’t do you any good either. Or demeaning. Ok, there are a ton of don’ts. But they should be pretty obvious for the most part. Find something you can apologize for, and do it sincerely. The end. Pretty easy.
A last note – apologizing doesn’t make you weak. Not apologizing doesn’t make you strong. Apologizing makes you a mature adult, and fixes problems. For reals. The end.