Apologizing . . . again

In a recent Pinnacle Forum call, our Monday morning group discussed “The Connection Between Mouth And Heart”, from “The Relational Principles Of Jesus” by Tom Holladay. 

Our candid conversation focused on how our words get us in trouble and an appropriate, simple apology is needed.  Too often, I get caught in the tornadic cycle of “self-reflection” asking why I say the things I say and do the things that I do.  The self-reflection can end up pulling me down into a deeper analysis with no solution in sight.

Self-reflection can only lead to spiritual rebuilding.  The solutions for my struggles are never found in me, alone . . . but, in the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

On a practical note, one of the men on our call recalled a “Six Steps To An Apology” by Ford Taylor.  Ford is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relational Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people. 

Here are his Six Steps To An Apology

What is the right thing to do when you have made a mistake that you are aware of? The answer? Apologize. 

So what is an appropriate apology? Is there a way to apologize that could lead to a change in behavior and save or grow relationships? 

When apologizing, I recommend using a six-step apology. My team and I are often told that this tool has saved relationships that appeared to be beyond saving. We’ve been told it has saved unity in marriages, sports teams, companies, and many other types of organizations. Let’s go through the process.  

Step 1: State the offense.

State aloud to the other person what he or she believes you did to him or her. Say, “You are right. I did ______. I did that.” If you have to qualify your apology by saying, “If I did _______,” it’s not a real apology. 

Step 2: Acknowledge that you were wrong. 

Use these three simple words: “I was wrong.” 

Step 3: Apologize. 

It’s very simple. Say, “I am sorry.” 

Now, if you were raised in a home where you were told you’re a sorry little son of a gun and that word has a different meaning for you, just say, “I apologize.” Remember not to say, “I want to tell you that I am sorry” or “I want to apologize.” These are not apologies. They are statements that you “want to” but are not going to. 

Step 4: Ask for forgiveness. 

Ask, “Will you forgive me?” 

Only you know if you’ve used forgiveness as a way to control and manipulate others. If you have been doing this and have lost credibility as a result, ask the person, “When you can, will you forgive me?” Otherwise, ask for forgiveness on the spot. 

It doesn’t matter what the person’s answer is. They don’t have to say “yes” or “no,” but it is important that you ask. Once you have asked, you have done your part. Regarding the relationship, the next step is now entirely up to the other person. 

Step 5: Ask for accountability.  

Tell the person who you hurt, “I give you permission to hold me accountable for not behaving this way anymore.”

Remember that we’re not making the other person accountable to hold us accountable. We’re giving permission to the other person to hold us accountable. And those are very different. 

When we say enough times, “I am wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” and we give permission for people to hold us accountable, our behavior will begin to change. 

Step 6: Ask if there’s anything else. 

Ask the person, “Is there anything else I’ve done in our relationship that I need to apologize for?” When you ask that, you’re going to surprise the other person. 

Men, if you decide to do that with your wife, know that she remembers far more of the things you’ve done to her than you could imagine. You may not even remember what you did to her last week. So, if you take “Step 6” in the six-step apology, be ready not to respond negatively. Just make a note of whatever she says. 

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