If you're in a relationship, it's pretty much a given that you're going to have to say you're sorry at some point. But not all apologies are created equal. So how do you increase the chances that someone will accept yours?
A new study has delineated six crucial elements that people seek out in others' apologies. Based on 755 people's reactions to different apologetic statements, the researcher found that these are the most important elements of an apology in order.
"Acknowledgement of responsibility": More than anything, people wanted the person apologizing to say that they made a mistake and that the hurt they caused was their fault. So, telling someone you're sorry they feel bad doesn't have the same effect as telling someone you're sorry you made them feel bad.
"Offer of repair": In addition to saying "sorry," people want those apologizing to make an effort to rectify what they've done. "One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. But by saying, 'I'll fix what is wrong,' you're committing to take action to undo the damage," said lead author Roy Lewicki in a press release.
"Expression of regret," "explanation of what went wrong," and "declaration of repentance": These three elements of an apology were about tied for the third most important.
"Request for forgiveness": Asking someone to forgive you might help, but it's not that important, according to Lewiki's findings. "That's the one you can leave out if you have to," he said .
But if you can include everything, it can only increase your chances of forgiveness. The apologies rated most effective in the study were the ones that incorporated all six elements. So, if you've done something wrong and feel sorry for it, go all out: When it comes to apologetic sentiments, the more the merrier.
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