Mistakes and failures are inevitable occurrences. In erring, you may offend or hurt other people and this realization can be an uncomfortable feeling. You hold the burden of guilt for doing something wrong, as well as fear of retribution from the person you have wronged, which may discourage you from admitting to your failures.
However, the following are ways you can say ‘sorry’ and admit to being in the wrong without necessarily ‘losing face’.
#1 “I accept responsibly”
Often when you’ve made a mistake, you’re likely to be on the defensive or trade accusations with the wronged party. This leads to even bigger disagreements and an inability to reach any resolution. The most courageous step to take is that of accepting liability in order to reinforce trust in you. Such acceptance could even disarm the person you have erred and you’ll soon be forgiven.
#2 “I apologize for the inconvenience caused”
When you make mistakes, they can cause disruptions, lead to annoyance or aggravate a bad situation and you have to deliberate on aspects such as these as you make your apology. Saying that you apologize for an inconvenience gives due consideration of the offended person’s feelings which positively affirms that you’re an accommodating and amiable person.
#3 “Please let me make it up to you”
This is a subtle way of showing both regret and assuming responsibility. By taking initiative to remedy the situation you may have brought about, the aggrieved party is able to absolve you from blame. If need be, give the aggrieved party time to consider your request to make amends to show respect for their anger or aggravation.
#4 “This will not happen again”
You could offer a firm reassurance that you understand the repercussions of your mistake and will not repeat the same. This will satisfy the person you have offended that you have learnt from the error you’ve made. Taking a lesson from your mistakes is an important trait as it reduces not only your burden of guilt, but also the amount of blame heaped on you.
#5 “I will do better next time”
In saying this, you show that you are willing to improve and become a better person. Assuring the afflicted person that you will not repeat a mistake is not entirely sufficient. The most important thing about learning lessons is your ability to apply them should you encounter a similar situation. This phrase instills in the afflicted person a sense of optimism in you. Furthermore, they’ll be willing to give you another chance to prove yourself.
Even though admitting to failure or a mistake is difficult, meaningful apologies and admissions demonstrate your regret and ability to be accountable. Carry yourself with self-confidence, but be calm. Most importantly, be mindful that apologies should not be conditional, so in your explanation, avoid using words such as ‘but’ or ‘if’.
When you show that you’re willing to make whatever amends you need to, the afflicted person begins to view you more positively. You also benefit from gaining a deeper sense of self-identity.