How do we approach apologizing? We have all had to admit our shortcomings and hold space for another, too. Apologizing, on the contrary, does not create a binary of right and wrong, it fosters space for understanding. Perhaps, apologies can strengthen our relationships.
V and R are friends. V forgets to meet R for lunch. V has to apologize, let’s try to work through how V goes about this.
V: I’m sorry I forgot to meet you for lunch, R.
V takes responsibility, V is open to being held accountable, this will help R find space to trust V again.
V: I am not going to give you excuses as to why I could not make it. It was not an emergency.
V does not center themselves. Positioning yourself to induce feelings of guilt in the other person may not be an honest apology.
V: I understand that this lunch plan really meant a lot to you. I disappointed you.
V expresses that they understand how disappointing it must have been. V could also ask if R agrees, and have a conversation to understand what this really meant to R.
V: I am going to cook dinner for us. Would you like that? Next time I will set an alarm to make sure I do not forget.
V communicates their intent to try to be on time in the future and offers to make up for the missed plan.
Does R forgive V? We do not know. However we do acknowledge that V tried, R felt respected and seen.
Hold gentle accountability, attempt to understand, approach a situation from a different perspective, and expressing intent on how you will try to be better.
When we find ourselves thinking about how we could apologize? May we ask,
"How can I transform my apology to hold space for my own learning and our relationship?"