When someone’s actions cause us emotional pain or disappointment, why do we feel the need to receive an apology?
When an offense occurs, we want to know the offender understands that we were upset as a result of their actions. If an apology is forthcoming, we also want to feel that it is sincere—that the other person is truly sorry for hurting our feelings. And we need assurance that the offense committed won’t happen again.
People who realize they’ve done an injustice to another person need to apologize. This begins with words, but it has to be more than just lip service. What the offended person really wants from you is different behavior. Your words of apology are the promise of change; supporting actions are the proof of it. Excuses and counterfeit admissions of guilt can make matters worse, leaving the offended party feeling invalidated and further alienated.
Following through on an apology can be especially difficult for people who engage in passive-aggressive behavior. They are willing, even eager, to apologize, but the proof that is supposed to follow the promise may not be forthcoming.
If you care about the feelings of those with whom you have a relationship, want to keep that relationship, and would like to enhance your own feelings of self-worth, you must sooner or later learn the art of apology. These six steps outline a helpful approach: