Living in Vancouver, hearing the words “I’m sorry” is as common as the greeting “hello”. We say sorry a lot – to the point where it’s almost an automatic reaction. The words are tossed around so frequently and casually that what should be powerful words really, have no meaning.
We say sorry when we accidentally bump a stranger in a coffee shop. We say sorry when we’re late. And when we make a royal mistake and end up hurting someone because of our actions, we use that same sorry. But the situations are completely different – yet we conclude with the exact same apology.
When you have wronged another and have caused insult, injury or hurt, sometimes sorry just isn’t enough. If you say “sorry” ask yourself what you’re willing to do to make a wrong, right. Perhaps that action is to change a behavior to avoid the same mistake from occurring again in the future. Perhaps it’s doing something nice to make up for the wrong. Perhaps it’s a heartfelt card or phone call that expresses your sincere care and compassion. Whatever it is, saying sorry and asking for forgiveness is only one step of a true apology.
Being accountable, making change, making an effort to do whatever in your power to make it up to the person – that is the action that backs up the words of “sorry”. It’s in the action where a true apology lies – not the simple uttering of the words.
Struggling to make an apology? Psychology Today blogger Sam Margulies sheds light on the necessary elements of an apology:
1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act
2. Acknowledge that You Have Hurt his/her Feelings
3. Express Your Remorse
4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat
5. Offer to Make Amends – The particular act of contrition may be negotiated but the important thing is to express your willingness to do something by way of compensation.
6. Seek Forgiveness
It’s easy to say sorry. But actually having follow-through on your apology and the action to back it up is the part that takes effort and real sincerity. You show your character not by the words that come out of your mouth, but with the action of your feet.
So please, don’t tell me you’re sorry. Show me.