Rose Medical Center
4500 E. 9th Ave. #660
Denver, CO 80220

Effective Apologies: A Quick Guide to the Key Ingredients

To fully clean up distressed feelings an apology needs to include the following ingredients.

1.  Specificity: “I’m sorry about my ______.”  That is, specify exactly what you did that you see now was mistaken.

2.  Non-intentionality: “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

3.  Clarification:  What was your miss – the mistake, misperception, misunderstanding, miscommunication, mishap, etc?  “I can see now that I mis_______ that _______.”

4.  Restitution:  Figure out what you need to do to fix the harm created by your mistaken action.

5.  Learning: What will you do differently next time to prevent a similar mishap from occurring again?  “In the future I will _____________when___________ .”

These five ingredients may be accomplished with just a few sentences.

However for more serious grievances, each ingredient may need to be added slowly, one by one, with discussion of each facet.

For the most serious grievances such as, for instance, marital infidelities, dishonesty of any type, alcoholic misbehavior, or abusive words or action, each ingredient may need to be reiterated and dsicussed at length multiple times over.

Step five, looking back to learn in order to prevent future repeat episodes, is a particularly vital ingredient for an apology to be genuine and the healing to transpire.

In addition, tincture of time plus repeated evidence of the new alternative behaviors also help to accomplish full healing, both of the guilt felt by the person who made the mistake(s) and of the suffering of the one who was wronged.

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