When you hurt someone, it's not always easy to make up. Opening your heart and apologizing is terrifying, but it's worth it when the relationship goes back to the way it was. You are already taking a step in the right direction when you choose to face the situation rather than ignore it. Now, just find the right way to apologize and fix everything. Keep reading to learn how to start mending your broken relationship right now.
Part 1 of 3: Understand what happened
Step 1. Get an objective view of what happened
Did you make a mistake and the other person was right? Or is the question more complicated? Making up is difficult when you don't know exactly whose fault it is. Think about what happened and decide what you need to apologize for.
- If you know what you need to apologize for, making amends should be pretty simple (though not necessarily easy). For example, if you borrowed someone's car without asking and ended up crashing, it's pretty clear how to fix the situation.
- But it's not always that simple. For example, maybe you and a friend haven't spoken for a few months and both have spoken insults that brought the relationship to a halt. It can be difficult to get back to the question of how it all started and who is responsible.
Step 2. Face your mixed feelings
When we're wrong about someone, sometimes we don't feel totally apologetic. People often hide their shame by acting aggressively or defensively and making excuses for this behavior. It can be very difficult to avoid hurting the other person, but if you are going to make amends, you will have to focus on getting it right, rather than allowing other feelings to get in the way. Ask yourself these questions to help you get to know your feelings better:
- Are you trying to hide feelings of shame because you are afraid of being an inferior person if you acknowledge your wrongdoing? Don't worry, apologizing for something you did wrong actually makes you a better person in the eyes of others, not a worse person.
- Are you aware of your mistake, but are you convinced that you need to go over it to preserve your reputation? All you're going to get out of this is to create a new reputation as an angry and stubborn person.
- Do you worry that this is a battle between respecting yourself and respecting others?
Step 3. Look at the situation through the other person's eyes
What is her perspective on what happened between you? Do you think she has the same feelings of resentment, anger, irritation as you? Maybe she's hurt, baffled, confused, or frustrated? Forget about your own hurts and your perception of what happened and try to see the situation from the other person's perspective.
Change your mindset. If you're still feeling angry, wronged, spiteful, or just plain fed up, know that your relationship with the other person is more important than being right all the time
Step 4. Write the reasons why you need to make amends
Sometimes it's good to write down everything that's going on in your head on paper. This will help you sort out your worries, reality, and your own interpretations of the situation so you can figure out how to make amends.
- Acknowledge your mistake. Don't be arrogant or stubborn – instead, be honest.
- Even if you think guilt is shared, try to be the most mature person about it.
- Read what you wrote down on paper. What stands out? Can you see repeating patterns? For example, you may discover a pattern of behavior, with you behaving selfishly towards other people on several occasions. Your negative motivation is more important than the situation itself, so try to be honest about it because you want the person you're going to apologize to to realize that you understand their mistake.
Step 5. Make peace with a pure heart
If you feel that you are still angry and defensive, you may need to wait a while before trying to make up. There's no point in trying to apologize when you're still carrying heavy emotional baggage. Your excuses won't sound sincere, because they won't be sincere. Facing up to your own feeling of resentment is a practical and constructive way to move forward, as it allows you to get to the root of the problem.
- If necessary, give yourself time to cool off and let the wounds heal. However, don't let too much time pass, as the longer the anger smolders and the other person distrusts you, the harder it will be for them to reconcile.
- Accept that you've misbehaved and now it's time to clean up the mess caused by your actions. Acceptance is not about tolerating what is wrong, but about acknowledging things as they are.
- Know that it's okay to initially feel angry about what happened, but don't use that feeling as an excuse. Choose to overcome anger – remember this is your mistake, not your supposedly tarnished reputation.
Step 6. Decide what will be needed to repair the damage
Get over the urge to hide your shame and really think about how you could fix what you've done. The way to make up is different for everyone. Only you know the proper way to apologize for what you've done.
- Making peace may simply mean opening your heart and apologizing for your behavior.
- Sometimes making up requires more than an apology. Maybe you need to back up your words with some actions. For example, if you have destroyed someone's property, paying for it is a good way to remedy the problem.
Part 2 of 3: Make plans to fix the situation
Step 1. Decide what to say
Rehearse difficult conversations before having them, as this will help you go on autopilot if your emotions get the better of you right away. Look again at the list you made, think about how you could have done things differently, and find solutions for your behavior in the future. Then make some mental or even paper notes about what you will say when you talk to the person again. Keep the following in mind:
- Be prepared to take responsibility for what you've done. For starters, it's a good idea to think about what you did wrong and accept that you did wrong. This sets the tone of remorse for the conversation. You can simply start with "I'm sorry I hurt you, I was wrong when…thought/said/did etc." Recognizing that you hurt the other person is a great way to ease tension.
- Know that if this isn't the first time you've hurt someone and the other person has heard your excuses before, a mere “I'm sorry” won't work. It's very easy to apologize when we don't make a real change in our behavior. Think about how you could make it clear that you are expressing genuine, sincere remorse when you promise that you will never act in such a way or repeat your mistake again.
Step 2. Meet face to face with the person
While it's possible to make up by email or over the phone, it's much better to find the person to apologize. This demonstrates your willingness to approach her again and make direct and meaningful contact.
- If you want to make up with family members you haven't seen in a long time, consider meeting them in neutral territory rather than at your home. This will remove the common tensions that can arise when we are in someone's territory.
- If you can't meet face-to-face, consider writing a letter rather than typing one or sending an email. It's much more personal to use a pen and paper to express your feelings in your own handwriting.
Step 3. Start your apology
Tell the other person that you want to apologize for their mistake and start the conversation by talking about what you've rehearsed and the feelings you've worked through. Remember the following:
- Try to end the conversation with a stronger relationship than what you had before your mistake. If you make peace with that spirit, really caring about connecting with the person and wanting things to be not just the way they were before, but better, then you're off to a great start.
- Watch your body language, tone of voice, posture and attitude. If you are truly sorry, all of these elements will help you convey your genuine apology. Eye contact is an important sign that you really believe what you're saying and aren't avoiding the other person, the truth, and their mistakes.
- Avoid using "you" phrases; always use constructions such as “I feel”, “I think”, “I believe”, “I found” etc. It is not the other person's mistakes that are in question.
- Avoid getting between the lines that you think your behavior is justifiable. This puts you back into combat mode.
Step 4. Keep the conversation simple and straightforward
A long apology ends up losing its way and becoming repetitive. Be clear, kind and effective. None of you want to spend all day suffering from this uncomfortable issue.
Step 5. Give the other person time to let off steam
Avoid assuming the other person's feelings and perspective. Although you have tried to see the situation through her eyes, if you followed the step suggested above, you did so still using your own knowledge and understanding of the world. Give the other person the space, time, and freedom to voice their grievances and take some cues from there. Even if you feel that some of her perceptions of the situation are incorrect, telling the other person that she has no reason to feel the way she does doesn't help.
Step 6. Back up your words with actions
Expressing genuine remorse is much more meaningful if you promise to change your behavior and act on it. Start by offering refund options. For example, if you broke something, offer to buy a new one; if you terribly cursed the other person, give them a long list of their positive attributes and explain that you were jealous of their accomplishments; if you ruined someone's event, offer to organize another one. Whether it's money, time, or attention you took from the other person, do what you can to get it back.
- Explain how you intend to change your behavior. If there are ways to demonstrate that you're going to keep your promise of change, do so. For example, you can tell the other person that you will never drive an ATV again after the accident caused by you killing their prized sheep, and show them the advertisement for the sale of the vehicle.
- Be very honest about what you learned from the experience. This helps the other person to realize that you really learned something, that you are sorry, and that the lesson was effective.
- If necessary, you can also consider going so far as to provide an outlet for the other person if you don't keep your promise – this approach should be your last resort and its effectiveness depends largely on the seriousness of your mistake. For example, you could say, "If I break that promise, you can sell my Star Trek collection."
Step 7. Ask the other person how they think it would be best to make up
If she gives realistic answers, this can be a good path to reconciliation. This option is not always suitable, so consider the context of the error. Be even more careful with this if you believe the other person might see this as a chance to behave in a manipulative way – you want to make amends, not become the person's slave.
Part 3 of 3: Moving Forward
Step 1. Do not repeat the error
Hurting someone in the same way twice is sure to destroy that person's trust in you. If you want to preserve the friendship, make sure you never intentionally hurt the person again. Do your best to be a trustworthy and caring friend. It's impossible to be perfect, but you must try your best to be trustworthy.
Step 2. decide move on.
Regardless of the outcome of your attempts to make amends, it's important not to feel sorry for yourself or blame the other person. Even if you can't fix things, at least you've done your best.
- Focus on the future and don't go back to that subject with the other person.
- Even if you don't make it up to the other person because they've decided it's over between you, try never to hurt anyone in the same way again.
Step 3. Learn from what happened
Use your experience with this mistake to feel compassion for those who do the same. In addition to better understanding the situation, you may have enough experience to help others achieve a positive outcome without condemning them.
Forgiving yourself (which is critical to making peace) allows you to live in the present rather than the past, so even if it doesn't work out, be grateful for this opportunity. By forgiving yourself, you will heal
- Discussions are part of most relationships. When we handle them well, the result of a misunderstanding or an argument can actually bring people closer together and help both of you to understand each other better and forgive each other's limitations. If you see negative interactions in this way, you are more likely to receive them as lessons about yourself and opportunities for relationship growth rather than as an interaction to be avoided at all costs.
- Be at peace with your own mistakes before trying to make amends – this will help other people overcome their mistakes too.
- Sometimes it's also possible to fix things on behalf of someone else, usually a family member or friend for whom we feel responsible but who doesn't seem to be making an effort to behave properly. However, if you intend to do this for someone else, be careful not to end up affecting your own life with the shame and guilt of others and get the wrong view of things. Remember that we are responsible for our own behavior.