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What is a REAL apology?

Here we go again. Public apologies for some egregious behavior. Inevitably it falls short, often woefully short. Apparently, we all still have a ways to go on landing a genuine apology. Everyone has done things that deserved an apology. If you are not among this group, keep on scrolling. If you are and want to learn the basics of how to apologize, welcome and keep reading. 
IMHO, a real apology is one that lands and is genuine. Though we can do the work to come into the current of a genuine apology, we can’t always guarantee that our apologies land and will be received. That is not within our sphere of influence. However, there are some guidelines that will help us find the current of an authentic apologies.

Begin with the remembrance that an apology centers the other person, not you. Real apologies demand self-reflection, humility and behavior change.

1. Express your understanding of the specific behavior you engaged in and how it impacted the person. This very likely includes reflecting their emotions and thoughts. – Placing my hand on your back was a clear violation. Ignoring your removal of my hand was arrogant and disrespectful of you. – Then when I placed my hands on your face for a kiss, I can understand how horrified and afraid you must of have been. My behavior was deeply disrespectful and hurtful. I imagine you must have been shaken and anxious after this. – I not only ruined what was a lovely wedding for you, I scared and disrespected you. For that I am deeply sorry. – Is there anything else you would like to say about this? Or anything else you would like me to understand.

2.Listen to what they say. Reflect your understanding. Ask again, is there anything else you’d like to say about that?

3.Repeat step 2 until they no longer have anything to say.

4. Commit to never repeating the offense. To accomplish this, have a clear strategy for insuring that you do not engage in the same offensive behavior (AAIT to the rescue!).

5.Ask for forgiveness. This one is tricky. Sometimes, people ask for forgiveness too soon and it becomes more about letting the offender off the hook, again centering the offender. Sometimes, forgiveness is reserved for more intimate relationships and the request seems disrespectful. And sometimes, the request completes the forgiveness. As I said, this one is tricky.

Want to further the conversation with yourself? Reflect on the questions below. 
What have you found MOST challenging about apologizing? 
What is most challenging when helping your clients find the current of a genuine apology?
What have you found to be most useful in relation to forgiveness?

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