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Monday, February 15, 2010

Is it time to apologize?

Did you once call someone a name that really affected them for the rest of their life? Did you stand someone up when they were expecting you to pick them up for a date? Did you lie to your boss when you actually did do something that affected the company in a dramatic way? Well, many people are now doing what appears to be the “in” thing… making apologies for things that happened long ago.

Dr. Joy you’ve brought us some research regarding “decade-late apologies.” What is this new phenomenon?
• With so much social networking people are able to find others via Facebook, My space and other methods and can access them years later
• With email people feel braver and less inhibited to make apologies that they might not make in person
• There are an influx of new websites such as and where people can learn tips and even post their apology to those they have harmed.

From a therapeutic viewpoint, how do you feel about these types of apologies?

• Obviously, apologies would be much better if they are done in person vs. via email and never via a public forum
• It’s important that the person understands why they are seeking to make an apology—if you are doing it for a response or some sort of forgiveness from the person you harm, you are doing it with the wrong objective
• If you are willing to make the apology as an act of making amends and you are willing to have no expectations for the results, then it is healthy option.

What are the keys or steps of a healthy apology whether it is for someone you harmed in the past, or for something in the present?
• Detail what happened in detail
• Acknowledge that you hurt or damaged the person
• Take responsibility for your actions and take responsibility for your part in the situation
• Make a statement of regret (the apology)
• Ask for forgiveness
• Make a promise it will not happen again
• Make some form of restitution whenever possible

Remember that it is never to late to apologize, but doing it now versus later might save you in the long run.

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