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5 Steps to a Powerful Apology: LCSW Julie Hanks on KSL’s Studio 5

Human beings are prone to mistakes, and we all have the experience of doing or saying something that has hurt another person (even someone we value and love). In order to repair those precious relationships, it is often necessary to apologize. But simply saying, “I’m sorry” is rarely enough. Here are 5 steps to giving a powerful, sincere apology:

1) Own Your Part
5 steps to a powerful apology
To truly mean that you are sorry, you need to own up to the specific thing you said or did that contributed to the other person’s pain. Take full responsibility for the part you played. Avoid general statements (“I’m sorry for whatever I did to hurt you”) or making reservations about the mistake you made. Have the courage to own up to your fault.

2) Reflect on the Impact

In order to offer a sincere apology, try your best to imagine how your words or actions hurt your friend or loved one. Put yourself in his/her shoes, and think about pain the other person felt (regardless of if you yourself would have been upset). Acknowledging the specific hurtful impact you caused can help your friend know that you are being genuine when you say that you are sorry.

3) Show Empathy

The words of your apology are important, but in order to demonstrate true empathy, it’s critical for your body language to communicate your sincerity. By showing that you are sorry with your body (and specifically with your eyes), the other person will know you are coming from a place of love.

4) Focus on Him/ Her

A common mistake made when offering apologies is flipping the conversation around and somehow making it about you. But in order to be truly effective in saying you’re sorry, save your justifications, feelings, and thoughts for another time. Make sure it’s about letting the other person you are truly sorry for the offense (instead of about you wanting to be understood or heard).

5) Make It Right

Now that you’ve spoken your peace, what are you going to do to make it right? Consider how you will reconcile your relationship beyond just your words. Take the necessary actions to demonstrate your desire to make amends. Let your actions back up what you’ve said, and determine to change the behavior that caused someone else to be in pain.

If you find yourself hurting or unable to move past certain struggles, consider visiting with a counselor at Wasatch Family Therapy to help you get unstuck and find happiness again.

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