A Japanese bullet train arrives 1 minute late; the operator apologizes and issues pieces of paper to commuters to inform their superiors of the inconvenience. In this country, the word ‘sorry’ can be a window into Japanese culture that mirrors politeness, respect and morality.
Many people such as yourself marvel at the Japanese culture for being so polite and sensitive, observing that these traits are ingrained into the peoples’ DNA.
Apologizing the Right Way
Why can’t other people apologize and be as sensitive as them? Being sincerely sorry and apologizing starts with you. Being on the wrong side of an argument sucks and saying sorry is not fun for most people. Being right and wrong is part of human nature; people in your life have probably wronged you and vice-versa.
Apologizing the proper way requires patience and sincerity, not an apology that feels pressured for the sake of it. Here are some points to consider when admitting your faults:
- Before apologizing, make sure the other person is listening and communicate what you did that offended them. An apology is not just saying sorry, but also finding ways to remedy the situation and prevent it from happening in the future. Saying sorry without any weight or meaning has little value compared to someone sincere and willing to fix the problem.
- Don’t try saying that you know how others feel. You don’t. We can only get an idea of how another person feels because we are not them. If you’ve offended someone and tell yourself that what you did wouldn’t hurt you, you may be apologizing for the wrong reasons.
- Apologize without conditions, and this means no “buts.” Be sincere for what you did and don’t bring up an argument. Learn to say sorry without any hesitations. A little effort also goes a long way – sending someone a customized letter with seasonal stamps is much better than apologizing via a text message.
- No matter how well and sincere your apology is, the other person isn’t required to forgive you or hear you out. That’s okay. Some people need time to forgive, and some won’t care – know that you did the right thing and move on from your mistake.
Apologizing at Work (The Right Way)
Being sorry in the workplace is similar to offending someone outside of it. Like in our personal lives, apologies don’t start with the word “sorry” and ends there; it should be thought out and explained.
Apologizing at work shouldn’t be a sign of weakness, but an act of maturity and responsibility.
- Start by considering why the other person was hurt and look past your emotions. Listen to their point of view without clouding your judgment as well as making them process what just happened.
- The timing of your apology is critical when it comes to saying sorry. Exercise eye contact and promptness for a sincere apology and on the spot; this is much better than taking your time and sending an apology email after a long period of denial time.
- Lastly, like in your personal life, apologize without hesitations and avoid using the “if” word. When admitting your mistakes at work, use words that deflect blame and not words that target specific people, even yourself. Instead of lingering on the problem, also focus on how to fix it and prevent it from happening again.
When Someone Apologizes to You
When you’re sorry for what you just did, listening to an apology takes some maturity as well. Be prepared to listen to what someone has to say and take note of their tone and body language. If you’re being apologized to, it’s your decision to inform them if you need time to think things through or if you forgive them.
Aside from listening, be mindful as well of repeat offenders, especially in the workplace.
You don’t need to be Japanese to be polite and sincere in admitting your mistakes. At the end of the day, people, including yourself, make mistakes and have to learn and move on from them.