6 Sincere Ways to Say You're Sorry
How do you say I'm sorry?
It's hard for some people to say the words, "I'm sorry." It's easy for others. But is it easy to mean those words? Is it easy for the hearer to believe those words? Have you ever had friends or lovers who said they were sorry only to go and do the same thing again to you? Conversely, have you ever had to convince a friend that you were truly sorry? How did you do it? What are ways to say that you're sorry when the traditional words "I'm sorry" have no effect?
Remember the 70s movie "Love Story?" Or the "Love Story" record?
1. First, you do have to say you're sorry.
Saying you're sorry is a place to start. If you are waiting for someone to come back to you, he or she will also have to learn to say I'm sorry. Even if you don't believe the apology at first, it has to be said. There has to be a place to start.
Are you familiar with the movie Love Story from the 70s? The big quotation from that movie was "Love means never having to say you're sorry." While the line may sound romantic, it doesn't work in the real world. Saying I'm sorry is a necessary way to begin, to admit that there is a problem, that you were at fault, and that you want to make things better. You have to acknowledge when you are wrong in order to begin to make something right.
2. Write a note or letter to express how sorry you are.
Okay, so you've said that you're sorry. Now what? If an "I'm sorry" in person doesn't work, maybe a handwritten note or letter will. Picking out and sending a greeting card gives the implication that someone took some time and thought...just for you. A card is a special effort on the part of the sender. Regardless of what a preprinted card says, the surprise of getting a card in the mail with a few heartfelt, handwritten words could have a positive impact.
A letter might also be the appropriate intervention, as explaining in person might not be conducive to resolving the situation. Explaining on paper is easier for some people and could be a way to make the other person understand just how sorry you are.
Saying "I'm sorry" is a start....
3. Do something out of the ordinary
Do something out of the ordinary to show that you're serious about what you say. Remind the person that you are still out there and you are thinking about him or her. Buy that book or scarf she has been wanting; drop it off with a note. Buy his favorite fast food and take it to him. If you live together, cook a nice meal. Buy groceries to bring home. Make an effort to pick up your shoes off the floor or your messes off the counter. Be thoughtful. Make an effort. Don't let the other person forget that you are still there and that you are really trying.
Do you write? Pen a poem that expresses your apology. Depending on the person you're trying to win over, you can make it funny, serious, or sweet. Even if you're not the best poet, your clumsy effort could make a difference in melting a heart that may secretly want to forgive you.
4. Show how you will change
You may have to convince your friend that you won't hurt him or her again. You may have to tell him how you will change or what you will do the next time you're in a similar situation. This may even have to be in writing. It's not enough just to say "I'm sorry," but you will have to prove yourself somehow. This could take a while.
5. Prove trust over time
If the hurt is deep, it may take some time to gain the other person's trust. Be patient. Check on the person now and then but not so much you drive her away. If she doesn't want to talk to you, send a text, email, or card occasionally to let her know you're thinking about her.
Recently, a friend of mine stopped talking to me. I have my suspicions as to why, and it's nothing that I did, but rather something she will have to own up to and apologize for if we are to be friends again. This is the second time in a few years that this has happened in our relationship. The last time, she finally came back, but it was after about a year and a lot of hurt. I forgave her and we were working our way back to the friendship we once had. This time, however, if she does come back and want forgiveness, it will be a hard thing for me to be able to trust her again. This is a situation in which time will be a factor. Just words won't be enough.
If you are in a position that you are the one apologizing, try to understand how the other person feels about your betrayal. Put yourself in his or her shoes and be patient as you prove your sincerity. Even if someone is sorry and forgiveness is given, does trust always follow? A trite phrase, but only time will tell.
6. Don't Give Up
If the relationship is really important to you, don't give up on obtaining the other person's forgiveness. This alone will show the person how sorry you really are. Keep after him or her--gently, and from a distance if you have to, until he or she is ready to talk to you again.
It would mean the world to me if my estranged friend would come back and say "I'm sorry" and truly stand by those words. I think that most people are like me in that they want to forgive the people they care about.
Sincerity goes a long way in mending severed relationships. Show how much you mean what you say . . . and give it time.