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“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.”– Unknown

Have you ever apologized to a loved one and found that the apology was not well received? Often times, those we love are more than willing to forgive us for our misdeeds when they feel that they have been heard and that we are truly sorry for what we did. So before you go and blame others for being too sensitive or for holding grudges, even though you have apologized, take a look at these steps and on how to give a heartfelt apology.

Step 1: Listen

  • Listen to your loved one’s words and do your best to make sure you understand their hurt.
  • Don’t judge whether your loved one is over-reacting.
  • Don’t decide whether you would be as hurt by the same situation, or whether others would be as hurt by the same situation.
  • Hear how hurt your loved one is.

Step 2: Apologize

  • Recognize that you hurt your loved one and verify that you understand the way in which they hurt.
    “I can see you are feeling _______.
  • Acknowledge that your actions and/or words hurt your partner and verify that you understand the way in which they hurt.
    “From what you are telling me, I am hearing that when I ______, you felt________. Does that sound right?”
  • Express that you care about your loved one’s pain and that it hurts YOU to have hurt your partner.
    “It tears me up to see you _______ because I love you so much.”
  • Assure your loved one that his or her pain is warranted.
    “You have every right to feel _______.”
  • Apologize by owning up to your actions.
    “I am so sorry for ________.”
  • Help your loved one to heal.
    “I would like to make it up to you by ________.” or “What can I do to make this up to you?”

If you would like to work on your apologizing skills individually or with a loved one and you live in the Tampa Bay area, contact Linda Murphy at the Relationship and Divorce Counseling Center at linda@radcounseling.com or visit www.radcounseling.com.

And for additional information about how to improve the content of your apology and/or tailor your apology to better meet your loved one’s specific apology needs, check out The Five Languages of Apology by counselor Dr. Jennifer Thomas and Dr. Gary Chapman.