Whenever a delicious dish is served to me, I finish it within no time. I usually take 5 – 15 minutes to finish my meal. After each good and satisfying meal, I tell my wife, “It takes so much time to prepare a meal, but we finish it within 5 or 10 minutes.”
Let’s calculate the time of preparation of a delicious meal… She goes to the market to buy vegetables, meat, spices, rice etc., which takes around 30 minutes. Then she chops them into the right pieces and washes them clean, which takes around say, 25 minutes. Then she marinates the meat for another 30 minutes… Then she starts cooking the meal which takes another 15-30 minutes… garnishing and serving take another 5 minutes… Total time taken to prepare a good and delicious meal is 2 hours. And I finish that same meal within 15 minutes, maximum.
An apology is that kind of meal that is offered by the person who has done wrong, who prepares it to make it presentable, acceptable and satisfiable for the receiver who has been wronged.
An apology is not a magic word called, ‘Sorry’. I know, my friend Prabhjot in her article talked about three magic words and the word ‘Sorry’ to be one of those three which needs to be taught to the toddlers. Yeah, that’s true…it’s a magic word for the toddlers only. Kids don’t understand the gravity and they needed to be made understand with the words they are acquainted with and magic is quite a catchy word for them. But in the real sense of it, an apology is not at all a magic word but a painstaking expression and action of a person which is offered wholeheartedly to another person.
I will share an experience that my wife went through when she was working in a school as an assistant teacher. There was a teacher who asked my wife to get out of the classroom rudely for some reason. My wife was extremely hurt and approached the higher authorities. The matter was dismissed when that teacher apologised my wife by saying sorry. But my wife still remembers that. She definitely has forgiven her but the hurt was there as a memory. They are not toddlers, they are adults and just an insensitive ‘Sorry’ has no magic in it to restore the relationship or friendship whatever it was.
How then, an apology should look like? What are the stepping stones to present an effective apology?
I was reading an article lately on Psychology Today, my favourite web journal. That article talks about a study that discovered six components of a good apology. They are –
- Acceptance of Responsibility.
- Offer of Repair.
- Expression of Regret.
- Explanation of what went wrong.
- Declaration of Repentance.
- Request for Forgiveness.
I arranged the points or steps exactly how the study explains.
But I have compressed the whole idea into three very easy steps:
Remembering & Regretting about the PAST
Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT
Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE
Let’s discuss them one by one…
1. Remembering & Regretting about the PAST:
I usually get irritated when my mistake is reminded. I say, ‘Past is past…forget it’. But it won’t be forgotten unless I have regretted about it and owned my mess to clean up. My apology is not meant to silence the person who’s hurt but a reminder of my past mistake.
Accepting responsibility is the number one and the most important of all in this category. Accepting that I have made a mistake and making it clear that I am at fault opens up the gate to communicate with the person who is hurt by me. We should always be careful about the ‘BUT or Excuses in Apology’ as warned by Avinash in his article.
The article that I had read on PT, gives an example of two statements which I want to state here for all of us to learn – say, “I’m sorry I said hurtful things” rather than saying, “I’m sorry if you were hurt by my words.”
Accepting responsibility is like garnishing and the smell of the meal a host offers to a guest. It is the act to confirm that I remember what I did, regret about what I did in the past and ready to held responsible for it fully.
2. Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT:
Ranjandini, in her article mentioned about the language of apology, I think that aligns with the expression of regret which is as important as realising and repenting which has to be undertaken by the defaulter one after the other, in the present time when he or she is standing in front of the wronged. Preeta made it very clear that one should apologise if he or she really have a realisation of his or her wrong doings. And the language of apology or the expression of remorse is well extended only after a true realisation.
Secondly, we all know that wrong can’t be corrected, a scar can’t be made clean later, damage can’t be undone but they can always be reduced, comforted, made up, bound up by offering a repair. It can be by writing an apology or clarifying things with the people involved in the damage because of my words towards the person who was hurt or paying compensation and so on… Repair can be done only by a true repentant.
3. Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE:
A reconciliation or restoration of relationship is possible when our apology is accepted by the person who was hurt by us but unfortunately, this is not falling on our part of actions as it is solely dependent on the other person. But an effective apology always requires the defaulter to ask forgiveness from the person against whom the wrong had been done. When we face denial our ego may challenge us to take a step back and stop thinking of bending down to complete the whole act of apology and reconcile the strained relationship but we should remember to own the mess by taking responsibility of our wrongs.
In conclusion, I just want to give stress on the subject of apology by quoting what Prerna said in her article – “every human commits sins and mistakes, so every human should seek forgiveness”, but we should always apologise in the right time – as early as possible. Kalpana, lost the opportunity to apologise to her father because she didn’t do that before it’s too late.
So, friends, before its too late let’s move our feet on those slippery and difficult stepping stones to complete the process of true and effective apology and restore our friendship/relationship. The Bible says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion“. If our confession is true then our apology will be effective.