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Live Intentionally, Die Empty

So I just wrote How To Apologize  and realized people also don’t know how to accept an apology. When a person is apologizing don’t just stand there and take it and walk away. It takes a lot for people to work up the nerve to apologize and when you don’t give an appropriate response it could possibly do further damage to an immature apologizer. (Is that a word?) And it could possibly result in further argument.

How To Accept An Apology:

1. Allow the Person to Apologize: I see lots of times when someone goes to apologize the offended party says, “I don’t want to hear it.” Like I mentioned above, it sometimes takes people a lot of time and courage to apology. When they have worked up the nerve to issue a sincere apology the least you can do is hear it.

2. Drop the idea that they have an ulterior motive: Sometimes the offended party allows their offense to prevent them from hearing an apology objectively. Realize that it’s possible that the offender really understands that they’ve done something wrong. Realize it’s possible that that person wants to bridge the gap and restore peace to the relationship.

3. Give the Person Credit For Apologizing: In the same way that common sense is not so common, apologizing for wrongdoing seems like it should be the norm, but it’s not. Think about it. When was the last time you initiated a sincere apology? How easy was it? Give the person credit for coming to you unforced. They don’t HAVE to apology. Realize that they had a choice not to, but did. Vocally give them credit. There are times when an offense is one-sided, but there are other times when it takes two to tango. You may have done something wrong too, particularly if there was an argument. But if nobody takes a step, then you are still far apart, but even if one person takes a step you are one step closer. And the person took the first step by initiating the apology. Honor that, even if there offense was a big one.

4. Express How You Felt: This is an appropriate time as any to tell the apologizer how their offense made you feel. They are open to hear it now, even when they weren’t open to hear it before. Try to avoid absolute words like “you always” or “you never” because they gender strife. But let them know how it made you feel. Sometimes in a calm forum you will help them understand something about how to relate to you that will help them avoid this offense against you and others in the future.

5. Express How You Feel Now: Perhaps you feel differently after the apology. Let them know how their coming to you made you feel. Maybe you still feel the same way and will need some time to “get over it.” Let them know that. But at least let them know where you stand. Don’t leave them hanging.

6. Forgive Them: Depending on how large the offense, this may be a tough one. But you need to forgive them. For your own sake. You may have to forgive them “by faith” and pray that you can feel real forgiveness later. The problem with unforgiveness is that it ONLY effects YOU. Once they’ve apologized (or not) it is generally off their conscience. Your unforgiveness springs up as bitterness in you, and it’s been proven that unforgiveness can effect your health. I’ve heard it said that “Unforgiveness is like YOU drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

7. Restore Them: For a close relationship this is important. Let them know that you and them are ok. (Or for big issues, that you will be ok). Don’t let them pour their guts out in a sincere apology and you give a callous “ok” and move on. It’s your responsibility at this point to restore them. It can be damaging to your relationship to let it simmer for days with no words as if it didn’t happen, particularly for immature people.

For not so close relationships, just say, “No worries” or “no big deal” and move on.

8. Apologize: What? Why is this step in here? Because like I wrote earlier, sometimes it takes two to tango. Acknowledge where you were wrong. If it was a two-sided offense, you need to admit your wrong too. It will speak volumes and will help grow your relationship when it shows that both people are involved in the success of the relationship. It shows the other party that you are not selfish. If it was only a one-sided offense then disregard this step… but you better be honest with yourself whether or not it was truly a one-sided offense.

9. Forget It: Part of apologizing is forgetting about it. By forgetting about it, I mean not brining it up later as ammunition. If you truly heard and accepted the apology then you are not allowed to bring it up again. (You may remember it in the sense of knowing how to and how not to relate to someone in the future, but you are not to bring it up again as a way to hold something over someone’s head.)

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