People, especially women and others who are frequently put down, are often told not to apologize for who they are. But sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between apologizing for who you are and apologizing for what you’ve done. I had trouble learning how to apologize sincerely because it felt like I was apologizing for my very existence. But that perception usually comes from our own insecurities. In reality, our mistakes don’t define us. A good apology requires the confidence to acknowledge you’ve messed up and acknowledge that this doesn’t make you a less awesome person.
In order to stop freaking out about every negative thing anyone says about you, you need to know yourself inside and out. You need to understand that every single personality trait out there is at least sometimes present in everyone, including you. Even the neatest people are sometimes messy. Even the most peaceful people are sometimes aggressive. Even the friendliest people are sometimes cold. Admitting to your messiness, aggression, and coldness in no way disavows your neatness, peacefulness, or friendliness. It just acknowledges the impact that the less desired traits can have on others.
My first and most important step toward getting better at apologies was embracing the qualities I didn’t like and understanding that they didn’t define my personality. But to get into more detail, here are some concrete things I’ve been doing recently to improve my apologies.
1. Focus On Impact, Not Intent
2. Really Emphasize How Bad Your Impact Was — And Why
3. Acknowledge Every Kernel Of Truth In Someone’s Point, Even If They’re Mostly Wrong