A genuine apology can help heal and restore a strained or broken relationship. But as Dr Gary Chapman tells us, it doesn’t end there. Observe these:
(1) Saying ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough! It’s a good and necessary start, but it’s not a good finish. For example, ‘I’m sorry you took it that way’ isn’t an apology; it’s a covert attack! You need to specifically confess what you’re remorseful about. ‘I’m so sorry that what I said insulted you’ acknowledges what you did and affirms the wounded person.
(2) Take full responsibility for your behaviour. Without that, there is no healing or reconciliation. ‘I was wrong to speak to you like that’ is honest, humble, concrete, and responsible. It helps the injured party see your apology as genuine. Genuineness diminishes anger and encourages others to trust and accept your words.
(3) Offer to make amends where possible. Ask, ‘Is there anything I can do to make things better?’ Putting yourself on the line to do everything you can do makes your apology heartfelt and sincere. James puts it like this: ‘Tell each other what you have done. Then you can pray for one another and be healed.’
(4) Ask for forgiveness—don’t take it for granted. ‘Will you please forgive me for what I did?’ You need to say it and the other person needs to hear it before healing and restoration can start. When you ask for forgiveness and it’s been granted, you have ‘signed on the dotted line’ together. You’re recording your mutual commitment to move beyond the hurt and work towards a healthier relationship.