If you missed part one of this article written by Oma Ogbodo, kindly click the highlighted name.
As we conclude this series, remember that this is not meant to excuse anyone from the practice of forgiveness. In truth, forgiveness is more profitable to the injured party than to the offender. On the contrary, my intention is to shake us from the notion that all offences are forgivable so long as we say sorry.
I have also not negated the teachings of the Holy Scriptures which I do believe in. The Scriptures teach forgiveness, but Jesus also made it clear that we should not be the source of offences to others. He was categorical in saying that woes betide anyone who is a source of offence to others. And that it was better that a millstone is hanged around such a person’s neck and he be cast onto the sea than for him to cause offence.
In other words, do not be the source of constant offence to others while hiding under the cover of always saying sorry. Saying sorry over and over for repeated (or the same) offences tend to create some of the following problems.
1. Loss of Trust
People want to feel secure that friends, family, relations and even acquaintances have their best interests at heart and will not intentionally hurt or harm them. But when a person keeps apologizing for the same or various offences, they tend to lose trust in that relationship.
Constant apologies cause the offender to lose integrity and appear as selfish and self serving. Rather than continuing to apologize over various offences, minimize offences by thinking about others before acting.
2. Loss of Opportunity to Learn
Getting away with insincere apologies removes the opportunity to feel true remorse and thus learn from your mistakes. Character is built through learning and the man who believes he can get away with empty words and pretense losses the opportunity to undergo positive character change.
3. Loss of Opportunity for True Reconciliation
The injured party can tell that the casual, careless apology was not sincere, but just meant to mollify. They leave with the impression that the other party does not truly care about them. They either continue to nurse their hurt silently, or hide it under big fake smiles. Either response is bad for the relationship in the long run. And although it might seem like everything is back to normal, there will be that distance, that sense of everything not being quite right again in the relationship.
Tips For A Sincere Apology
Though there are no cut and dried methods of apologizing sincerely, the following tips should help.
1. Think about the Situation
After that first rush of quick apology, there is need to think about what happened and analyze it objectively. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see how your actions and/or inactions might have offended or hurt them. This step makes the other steps easier and more sincere.
2. Find a Proper Atmosphere
Choose a time and environment where the injured party is relaxed and secured. Don’t put them in a position where they feel pressured to react in specific ways or you might cause further offence. If possible, apologize when you are alone or find a third party who is objective and respected by both of you.
3. Be Specific
Say exactly what you have done wrong. This shows that you actually thought it through and understand what you have done to offend. So instead of saying, ‘I am sorry I cheated on you,” say, “I am sorry I slept with your best friend.”
4. Express Why You Are Wrong
Express why your action was wrong and acknowledge how it would have caused hurt to the other person. Say, ‘This is wrong because I betrayed your trust and caused you to feel hurt.” Again, this conveys forethought and sincerity.
5. Acknowledge Their Right to Be Offended or Hurt
Do not try to take away the right of the offended party to feel hurt and/or offended by making excuses or comparisons. Never measure the extent of their feelings of hurt and offence by your perception of the gravity of what you have done. They are the ones offended. They know how much it hurts. Respect that.
6. Acknowledge Your Responsibility
Excuses and justifications are a no-no where sincere apologies are concerned. Statements like, ‘I was wrong,” “It was my fault,” and such, are the golden voices of sincere apologies. A wise man once said, ‘What you attempt to justify, you have not repented of.’ Excuses and justifications convey the impression that you do not see what all the noise is about.
7. Correct Yourself Positively
This is where you tell the other party how you are going to behave in the future that will be different from how you have behaved in the past. Use positive intent. For example, instead of saying, “I will not cheat on you again,” say ‘I will be faithful to you in the future.”
8. Try to Restore Your Relationship
Ask for things to go back to the way they were; ask for an opportunity to effect the positive change you just promised. Say things like, ‘Will you forgive me?” ‘Will you give me another chance?” And not, “I will make it up to you.” The later only serves to incite more annoyance as it carries the thought that you know the exact measure of their hurt and how to make it up. That is not possibly true.
9. Offer Restitution
If you have caused a person harm or damage that can be repaired or replaced, please offer to at least bear some of the cost of such repair and/or replacement. Tone of voice and attitude is important here. Don’t get all snotty and give the impression that you can buy their forgiveness with the repairs or replacement. Be sincere and humble.
10. Submit To Their Decision
This is the acid test of the sincerity of your apology. If a person gives you a response that is different from what you were expecting, you should submit to it. Arguing or trying to press home your points for why you should get a specific response simply means the whole point of your apology was to get that specific response and not to express your genuine remorse.
11. Be Sincere About It All
Tone of voice, attitude and body language all tell a story of their own. If you are sincere, your words, actions and attitudes will reflect it. An insincere apology is worse than no apology.
12. Learn From the Experience
If you go through all this without learning anything, then the entire experience is wasted. If you paid attention to step one and did it properly, then getting at least one valuable lesson from the experience would have been easy.
By Oma Ogbodo
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