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Have you ever been given an apology? Have you ever apologized? We apologize to smooth things out with someone who is advantageous to us. We apologize to save face; to try and protect or preserve our reputation. We apologize because we are in trouble and we’re trying to get out of it or at least minimize the damage. A genuine apology from a repentant, humbled, heart is rare.

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We apologize from our own selfishness so often we don’t recognize when we are doing it or when someone is doing it to us. In fact, fake apologies sound pretty good if you don’t think to hard about them. So what’s the difference? It helps if you have or hang out with kids – they are fake apology experts!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of that experience, here are some tips for adult fake apologies.

The major giveaway of a fake apology is there is an emphasis what the offender wants. “Oh baby, I JUST WANT YOU BACK.” “It BOTHERED ME that I didn’t get to say sorry.” “I JUST NEEDED TO GET THIS OFF MY CHEST.” So basically, there is little regard for the one offended; what’s important is that the offender gets what they are after.

Beyond the selfish emphasis (do you really need more?), there are a few other tell tale signs: a lack of sincerity, passive-aggressive comments, guilting the offended person, self-pity, and usually flattery.

Now, please apologize to yourself for trying to use fake apologies to get your way. We’re all guilty and we need to forgive ourselves so we can grow out of it. If you’re ready, how can you start giving genuine apologies?

 

You start by acknowledging your offence. Wait a second, he said he was sorry for hurting me – it must be genuine! Not so fast. A genuine acknowledgement will spell out the offence. In fact, if the offender is vague or dismissive regarding what they have done, that’s a big red flag they are not actually repentant – they are still the same person!!

The next step is the apology. Sincere, heartfelt, humble. No self-pity or guilting and most importantly, the focus is on the one offended.  Compare: “I apologize for the harm I caused you” vs. “I just need to say I’m sorry.”

Finally, there is making amends. A fake apology will not include amends (watch out for things that sounds like amends such as “how can I make you like me again?”) Making amends is scary, requires vulnerability and humility. That’s why most people go for the fake apology instead.  Making amends goes like this: “How can I make amends for what I did?” Then the offender shuts up, listens, and acts on the information provided. An offender giving a genuine apology will follow the offended person’s instructions and timeline. There is no rush just to smooth things over; it recognizes that wounds take time to heal. This is the loving way.

Now, go apologize to someone.