You know what you did or said hurt the person you love, and you know that you need to make things right. What should you do? Write a note. There are advantages when you right a wrong with the written word over doing it verbally. You are more thoughtful with your response. You are more careful with your words. Your emotions are more likely to be held in check. So, take out a sheet of paper and write down what you want to say to the person you’ve offended. While you W.R.I.T.E., remember these tips to right a wrong:
Waste no time in making your apology. In his ancient letter to the people of Ephesus, Paul of Tarsus said, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” As soon as you realize that you need to make things right with someone, don’t hesitate. The more time that passes between and offense and an apology, the more time the other person has to be hurt and possibly more resistant to reconciliation.
Request forgiveness. It may seem silly to point this out, but somewhere in the course of your letter, you need to say “I was wrong, please forgive me.” Be specific about what you are apologizing for.
Intentional. Now isn’t the time to be evasive about what you did wrong. Hit it head on and stick to the point without bringing in other issues. This tells the person you’re taking this matter seriously, that they are important to you, and that you value the relationship.
Take responsibility for your words and actions. A genuine apology is unconditional, without excuse, and aimed solely at taking responsibility for what you said or did. There are no hidden agendas, secret motives or strings attached. Saying “I’m sorry, but…” is no apology at all. If you are genuinely remorseful, you won’t need to make an excuse for your behavior or try to point the blame on another person or in another direction.
Encourage sincere communication. An offense committed against a person can squelch their spirit and hinder communication. A good way to end your letter is to let them know that you’d welcome the opportunity to listen to them further if they’d like.
I’d like to hear from you. Do you have any ideas for an effective apology?