- Step 1: Find out what it was Find out what the offense was before apologizing, or risk making things worse by coming off as patronizing. Be willing to act responsibly and make peace.
- Step 2: Avoid blaming Take responsibility. Avoid qualifying reservations for the apology, which usually begin with "but" and end with a transfer of blame.
- Step 3: Express regret Express regret with genuine shame and offer to change. Relationships rely upon honorable behavior, and nonverbal cues that imply it's the other person's fault undermine peace.
- Step 4: Face them Face each other when apologizing instead of doing it over the phone, or in an e-mail or text. Show some class and respect their feelings.
- TIP: Any resistance to apologize shouldn't come from a misguided need to control the partner or to avoid losing ground. Heal the conflict instead of prolonging it.
- Step 5: Listen to them Let the other person speak and hear them out, in case their viewpoint has been completely misunderstood. Assure them that no disagreement can change the security of the relationship.
- TIP: If you can't bring yourself to admit you're wrong, try to agree to disagree.
- Step 6: Soothe the situation Soothe the situation with an activity to leave the disagreement behind. Buy them flowers or a small trinket as a peace offering, and move on.
- FACT: In the 1970 film Love Story, the protagonist concludes with the famous line: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
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