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How to Make Up with Someone Whether You're Sorry or Not
The world is full of people who have different opinions and different ways of behaving. These differences often cause conflicts between people, whether they are strangers, friends, family, or lovers. To make and preserve meaningful connections, you must avoid letting those conflicts define your relationship. Instead, determine if there was a misdeed done or if you simply disagree. If you have done something hurtful to another person, offer them an apology and express your desire to mend the relationship. If you feel that an apology isn’t appropriate, hold firm to your viewpoint, but also validate the other person in the relationship. Most people can make up after their conflicts whether they are sorry for their actions or not.
Offering an Apology to Make Up
Be as humble as possible.The first step to making an apology is to realize that you are not always right. People are often defensive and struggle to accept their faults. This mechanism is meant to protect your mind and emotions from being hurt, but it can often lead to difficulties when dealing with other people.
- For example, if a person tells you that your bumper sticker is offensive, you might feel the need to accuse them of being “overly sensitive” before stopping to think about why they were offended. By assuming that the other person’s opinion is as valid as your own, you open yourself up to understanding their point of view, even if you still disagree.
Accept fault when necessary.Sometimes people do things that are just not cool. That includes you. When you do something that has a negative effect on someone else, be willing to admit fault in the situation. Constantly deferring fault to the other person can put a strain on the relationship and make it hard to move past the conflict.
- For example, say you were supposed to pick your friend up from work. When you left your job, you were so focused on getting home that you forgot to pick up your friend. If you say something to your friend like “You should have reminded me,” you are not accepting fault. Instead, you should acknowledge your role in the situation by saying something like “It was my fault, I completely forgot that you needed a ride.”
Offer your apology quickly.The longer you wait to apologize, the less sincere it will seem. The person that you are apologizing to will be expecting the apology immediately. If you withhold it, it can put a strain on the relationship. Your eventual apology is likely to be mistaken for a way to alleviate that strain rather than a genuine apology.
- If you are out with friends and say something that embarrasses one of them, apologize immediately. Do not wait until the next time you see them to bring up the apology.
Give a full apology.If you are apologizing, you have likely hurt another person in some way. The first step to a full apology is to acknowledge this. Next, express your regret for having hurt them, and finally make an effort to amend the situation (and relationship) and ask to be forgiven.
- For example, if you missed several phone calls from your spouse while you were out with friends, saying “I’m sorry,” isn’t a full apology. Instead, say something like “I know that you were worried about me last night. I am sorry that I didn’t have my phone charged. From now on, I’ll take a phone charger in my car so you can reach me. Do you forgive me?”
Standing Your Ground and Making Up
See the other person’s viewpoint.To see another person’s point of view means that you have to dissociate yourself from the idea that there is only one right way to look at things. You have to recognize that different people will see the same situation in different ways, and that the opinions formed in those situations are not fact. When you take on another person’s viewpoint, you broaden your understanding of that person and the issue at hand. Try asking yourself these questions when you want to understand another person’s viewpoint:
- Why do I feel the way I do about this issue?
- What would make another person feel differently?
- Has this person dealt with similar issues in the past?
- Is my stance based on factual evidence, or is it just an opinion?
- How would I feel if I was in their situation?
Validate the other person.Simply to see the other person’s side is not enough. You also have to validate their opinion. Acknowledge that, even if you are right, they are not wrong simply because they see it differently. When you can accept that another person may also be right, you are giving credit to their intellect and humanity. This will go a long way in making up for a disagreement.
- Instead of disregarding someone by saying something like “I know you think that traveling overseas is unsafe, but you’ve never gone anywhere to know that,” acknowledge the other person’s point of view as meaningful by saying something like “You are right. Travelling overseas can be dangerous. I still think I would like to see more of the world, though.”
Agree to disagree.Though it sounds easy, agreeing to disagree can be tricky. You have to realize that your value as a person is not tied to you opinion on an issue. That way, when the other person disagrees with you on the issue, it does not feel like a personal insult or attack. Allow the other person the room to express their opinion open, and take the same liberty for yourself.
- For example, your friend might think that skipping class is fine as long as their grades stay up. You might disagree. Instead of trying to force your friend to come to class, you can agree to disagree.
Determining When You Should Apologize
Apologize for being offensive.If you have said or done something that was insensitive or hurtful to a specific person or group, you should apologize. You should also apologize when you make a mistake. Never try to cover up your mistakes by shifting blame to another person.
- For example, imagine you invite friends over and order pizza. You forget that one of your friends is a vegetarian, and ordered only meat lovers pizzas. This oversight can make it look like you didn’t care enough to consider that friend’s preference. In this case, you should apologize for the mistake and try to fix it (order a cheese pizza).
Say you are sorry only when you mean it.Some people are apologize compulsively. When you over apologize, people may take it for granted that you assume they are right. This will leave the impression that you have low self-esteem and that you are not secure in your opinions. Aside from weakening your stance on an issue, this will bring the sincerity of any serious apologies into question.
- For example, if you say “I’m sorry,” every time you pour yourself the last cup of coffee or take the last napkin, saying I’m sorry,” might be taken as insignificant when you make a mistake like spilling your coffee on your boss.
Avoid apologizing for respectfully disagreeing.You should not apologize for being honest. If you respectfully state your opinion or stance on an issue, there is no need to apologize. If you make a decision that you feel was for the best, you should not apologize. You can look at the other person’s viewpoint and validate their opinion, but you should not invalidate your own.
- For example, if you say something like “Studies show that the economy needs to be diversified with more renewable energy jobs to be competitive in the future,” you should not apologize to someone just because they work in the fossil fuel industry and disagree.
QuestionI've had an argument with my mom, what do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApologize and express how you feel. Whether it was you or her that was wrong in the argument, apologize and try to start fresh. Fighting with your mother is not something fun to be doing especially since you know that she loves you with all her heart.Thanks!
QuestionI had an argument with a friend. I do not want to apologize but I want to be friends again. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust try talking to them again and hanging out without offering the apology. If they accept that, you should be fine. If they ask for an apology, you will have to decide if their friendship is worth it.Thanks!
QuestionI did a terrible thing to my best friend and now he's very upset. I apologized many times but he didn't seem to forgive me. I feel very bad. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou apologized, hopefully sincerely, and that's really all you can do. Tell him that you hope he'll choose to forgive you, but you understand that he might need some space right now, and that you'll be there whenever he wants to talk.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I hurt my sister physically? How do I make it up to her?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell her you're sorry and that it will never happen again. She might still be upset for a while, but she should forgive you. You're family, after all. If she does accept your apology, ask her for a hug so you can put everything behind you.Thanks!
QuestionI had a mental breakdown and went psycho. I scared my little brother and lashed out at my grandmother. I regret what I have done, but my grandmother wants me to make it up to her somehow. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApologize to your grandma. Give her a hug, and do something thoughtful for her: bake her cookies, make her pottery, etc. If you are too scared to tell her verbally, then write her a card and leave it with a present on her doorstep. Then do the same for your brother.Thanks!
QuestionMy mom and I always fight, and it's always because of my attitude and behavior. I have apologized so much that she has almost stop accepting apologies. How can I truly apologize and have her believe me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou have to truly mean your apology. It's difficult to forgive if you to apologize, then continue to do the thing you are apologizing for. Before blowing up and getting upset, you need to stop, count to 5 in your head, and think about your reaction to the situation going on at the time, or what you are about to say. Is it appropriate? Will it make this fight worse? If so, stop yourself and think of a calm way to solve this or to talk with your mother. It will take some work, as all relationships do. I promise you, though, it is so worth it. Your mother is the only person who will stick by your side.Thanks!
QuestionI accidentally exposed one of my friends secrets. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSay sorry, and expose one of your secrets to them to make it even! Something embarrassing about yourself. Just remember to make the secret not too embarissing.Thanks!
QuestionA teacher saw an offensive text that I sent to her. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApologize in writing and in person.Thanks!
QuestionI have a little sister and she always tries to make fun of me when her cousin comes to visit. She drives me nuts doing that! What shall I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell her about the way you feel and hope that she is mature enough to stop. If she doesn't, then tell your parents and trust that they'll help.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend threw something at me when I was talking because she wanted my attention. I tried to stand up for myself, but I think I embarrassed her in the process. What should I do?Top AnswererRead about the legal right to (self) defense. One of the conditions is that the defense must be at the level of the attack, i.e. if someone kicks your shin, that doesn't give you the right to shoot them dead. You can only go so far as it takes to stop them from kicking you again. If she threw a bicycle at your head, then embarrassing her was not too much; if a piece of paper, then perhaps you overdid it. Let her know you're sorry for embarrassing her, but only insofar as it was in excess of what she did to you. You were right to stand up for yourself; keep doing that, but find a better balance.Thanks!
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