Conflict Resolution Series: Apologies are Key to Successful Outcomes
Have you ever been in a disagreement that blew up into a full-fledged argument before you knew it? I sure have. What started out as a minor issue blew up into a raging character assassination that had nothing to do with the original issue. I can even admit that I have been known to say and do things that I regret when I have been in conflict. Have you done that, too? Good, you get me.
Here’s a way to undo the damage: Say you’re sorry.
This may seem easy enough, but if you are anything like me, you may be stubborn. You may feel sorry, but don’t necessarily want to admit it. Why do we do that?! The truth is, saying you’re sorry is more than just saying the words. It’s also making sure the offended party knows you are sorry and changing your behavior to prove it.
Saying you’re sorry is an effective conflict resolution strategy because a lot of conflict comes from upsetting others resulting in hurt or bitter feelings. If you’ve been in a disagreement and your behavior contributed to the fall out it is worth your effort to say that you’re sorry. Here are the components of a good apology:
State the facts
You are sorry. Say so. Share exactly what you are sorry for (insert whatever your offense was here) then use empathy to expand and prove that you truly understand how you impacted the other person. An example might be “I am so sorry that I criticized your cooking. I know that you worked hard to make this meal, and I was careless with my words. I know it would hurt my feelings if someone said my food wasn’t good. Please forgive me and allow me to take you out for some pizza so you don’t have to cook tomorrow.”
Change your actions
People are generally forgiving by nature. Family is generally the most forgiving because they love one another and want to be in good space. If you have upset someone then try to do everything you need to do to keep from repeating the offense. Even the most forgiving people will start to go numb to you if you keep doing the ‘thing’ you are sorry for over and over.
Being sorry and willing to admit it actually builds trust and respect. It doesn’t make you weak or give the other person power over you. Being able to admit when you are wrong is an important aspect of maturity and is a great example to show in front of your children. Learning to admit when you are wrong shows that being able to redeem ourselves is an important part of being in a family.
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