How to Make a Wrong, Right
It has happened to all of us. At some point or another, we are caught off guard. Do you recall behaving rudely, speaking unkind, giving annoyed looks or just having a moment that you could take back? Everyone can have a bad day or an unpleasant moment when you aren't proud of your actions and wish you could have a "redo," especially when we may have hurt other's feelings. Here is what to do if you find yourself in that situation.
Acknowledge Your Mistake and Apologize
It doesn't have to be immediate, but within a reasonable amount of time, contact the person who experienced your behavior or who was affected by your bad decision. In a relationship, this is best done before the end of the day to take the hurt and anger away and go to bed with a clean slate. (To be clear, I am not referring to offenses such as infidelity, assault, stealing, or other misdemeanors. The more grievous an offense requires serious reconciliation).
The first step in making a "wrong" "right" is to acknowledge the "wrong." Think about the action. What would you do different if you had a "redo" button? The second step is to apologize. Saying, "I'm sorry," is hard. It is not pleasant to admit that we did something wrong, but its even worse to know we hurt or offended someone by our selfish lack of regard. Though it may be more challenging, try to apologize in person. If you do not have the opportunity to see the person face-to-face, call or send a hand written note. Do it promptly: it will make both of you feel better and hopefully bring peace to the situation.
When giving your apology, be humble; be sincere. It is not a time to prove a point or to make excuses. It is worse to give an insincere apology than not to apologize at all.
Favorite "I'm Sorry" Songs
Chicago, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
Elton John, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
Brenda Lee, "I'm Sorry"
Nirvana, "All Apologies"
John Mayer, "Say"
One Republic, "Apologize"
The Decemberists, "Apology Song"
Treat Others How You Want to Be Treated
I always tell my kids to treat others how they want to be treated. Those words of wisdom came back and smacked me in the face last week. I was in the grocery store picking up a few items in a hurry before I picked up the kids from school. I had a headache and was not feeling social. (Yes, all lousy excuses...) Coming down the aisle towards me was a young man dressed in a uniform that I did not recognize. I figured I was going to be asked to take a survey or try a product or something that I did not have time to do. My scrunched up negative face and unpleasant greeting must have said it all when the young man said, "Hi" and then quickly moved along and said, "Oh, you don't recognize me and you don't want to talk." OUCH. It was a dagger. This young man was not a stranger, he was the son of an old friend that had grown up so much I did not recognize him. I quickly apologized and changed my tune, but it was too late. I was caught being unkind and unpleasant. This encounter preoccupied me. Why did I treat a stranger so unkindly? And this was not a stranger, and I was caught.
The only thing I could think of was to apologize again for my rude behavior. I did not have a way to contact him directly, so I sent a note to his mom and asked her to give it to her son who is in college. I apologized and although I still feel like a heel, I do have peace knowing that I have rectified the situation to the best of my ability. It was a good learning lesson for me not to be so self-absorbed in my own thoughts and hurried pace. Treating others with kindness and respect is what I strive to do and to teach my kids.
Do you Wish You Could Have a "Do Over" Button for a Recent Action?
What was your crime?
Celebrities Need to Apologize Too
Athletes and celebrities mess up too, and I think it is harder when you live in a fish bowl. It is just as important for them to acknowledge mistakes without making excuses. Lance Armstrong is a perfect example of someone who admitted guilt, but struggled to apologize. Wouldn't we all have accepted his guilt better had he been more humble and sincere with Oprah instead of citing the culture of cycling at the time?
We all screw up. It's human nature. Strive to make the situation right so you don't hurt others around you by your actions. You will have more peace in your heart.
Check out another interesting hub by theraggededge on How to Mend a Broken Friendship.