What is an Apology?
An apology is a statement that has two key elements:
1. It shows your remorse over your actions.
2. It acknowledges the hurt that your actions have caused to someone else. We all need to learn how to apologise – after all, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and we all have the capability to hurt people through our behaviours and actions, whether these are intentional or not. It isn’t always easy to apologise, but it’s often the most effective way to restore trust and balance in a relationship, when you’ve done something wrong. Why Apologise? There are many reasons why you should make a sincere apology when you’ve hurt someone unnecessarily, or have made a mistake. First, an apology opens a dialogue between yourself and the other person. Your willingness to admit your mistake can give the other person the opportunity he needs to communicate with you, and start dealing with his feelings. When you apologise, you also acknowledge that you engaged in unacceptable behaviour. This helps you rebuild trust and re-establish your relationship with the other person. It also gives you a chance to discuss what is and isn’t acceptable. What’s more, when you admit that the situation was your fault, you restore dignity to the person you hurt. This can begin the healing process, and it can ensure that she doesn’t unjustly blame herself for what happened. Last, a sincere apology shows that you’re taking responsibility for your actions. This can strengthen your self-confidence, self-respect, and reputation. You’re also likely to feel a sense of relief when you come clean about your actions, and it’s one of the best ways to restore your integrity in the eyes of others. Consequences of not Apologising What are the consequences if you don’t apologise when you’ve made a mistake? First, you will damage your relationships with colleagues, clients, friends, or family. It can harm your reputation, limit your career opportunities, and lower your effectiveness – and others may not want to work with you. It also negatively affects your team when you don’t apologise. No one wants to work for a boss who can’t own up to his mistakes, and who doesn’t apologise for them. The animosity, tension, and pain that comes with this can create a toxic work environment. Why Apologies are Difficult With all these negative consequences, why do some people still refuse to apologise? First, apologies take courage. When you admit that you were wrong, it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can open you up to attack or blame. Some people struggle to show this courage. Alternatively, you may be so full of shame and embarrassment over your actions that you can’t bring yourself to face the other person. Or, you may be following the advice “never apologise, never explain.” It’s up to you if you want to be this arrogant, but, if you do, don’t expect to be seen as a wise or an inspiring leader. How to Apologise Appropriately In an article in the Journal of Psycho linguistic Research, psychologists Steven Scher and John Darley present a four-step framework that you can use when you make an apology. Let’s look at each step, below.

Step 1:
Express Remorse Every apology needs to start with two magic words: “I’m sorry,” or “I apologise.” This is essential, because these words express remorse over your actions. For example, you could say: “I’m sorry that I snapped at you yesterday. I feel embarrassed and ashamed by the way I acted.” Your words need to be sincere and authentic. Be honest with yourself, and with the other person, about why you want to apologize. Never make an apology when you have ulterior motives, or if you see it as a means to an end. Timeliness is also important here. Apologize as soon as you realize that you’ve wronged someone else.

Step 2:
Admit Responsibility Next, admit responsibility for your actions or behavior, and acknowledge what you did.Here, you need to empathize with the person you wronged, and demonstrate that you understand how you made her feel.Don’t make assumptions – instead, simply try to put yourself in that person’s shoes and imagine how she felt.For example: “I know that I hurt your feelings yesterday when I snapped at you. I’m sure this embarrassed you, especially since everyone else on the team was there. I was wrong to treat you like that.”

Step 3:
Make Amends When you make amends, you take action to make the situation right.