Maybe you’re a perfect person that will never make a mistake. For the rest of us, we’re going to have to say sorry at some point in our life. Might as well make it count. Here are some tips for nailing an apology from psychologist Harriet Lerner.
- Drop Your Defenses. Reject your brain’s programming that makes you take everything as an attack. Lerner says to try to keep an open mind and listen to the person you’re saying sorry to instead of being defensive. “Try to wrap your brain around the essence of what that hurt party needs you to get.”
- Be Real. If there is even a hint of sarcasm when you say sorry, the other person is going to pick up on it. You need to show genuine remorse. Lerner says it should make you feel vulnerable when you do it because you’re relinquishing control to the other person. If you don’t feel that, you’re probably doing it wrong.
- No Ifs Or Buts. “But almost always signifies a rationalization, a criticism, or an excuse,” Lerner says. And it doesn’t even matter if you’re right. As soon as you drop the ‘butt’ your apology is basically meaningless.
- Less Is More. According to Lerner, when you make a long-winded apology all you’re really doing is “hijacking the hurt party's emotionality and making it about you.” Keep it short, concise, and to the point or you might have to say sorry for saying sorry.