Importance of apologizing


Stepping away and evaluating, considering the other person’s perspective, acknowledging your own mistakes and sympathizing with others are important steps to effectively apologize. These steps will show your respect for others when giving an apology. (Cartoon by Lillie Bobé)

Admitting when you are wrong can be extremely difficult depending on the situation. Many people tend to get tunnel vision when viewing a problem they face, resulting in only seeing one side of the story or automatically thinking they are in the right. Breaking out of this habit by taking a moment to look at the situation from all perspectives, knowing when you are in the wrong and being able to apologize are all important skills that improve communication in relationships.

Being able to openly talk to people and understanding that communication works both ways can be difficult. When you are disagreeing with someone, it can be easy to assume that you are in the right. Taking a moment to step away from a situation and evaluate what you said and how you can healthily address the issue will make you a better communicator.

Sophomore Christian Martinez understands the importance of open and healthy communication in relationships. Martinez uses his communication skills to create stronger relationships with people in his life.

“With bad communication, it is hard to get to know someone and develop a connection with them,” Martinez said. “You miss out on all the opportunities you would get if you did have open and honest discussions.”

Relationships require both parties to put effort into them. Even personally acknowledging your mistakes is not enough at times; apologizing and addressing the situation properly are also necessary for relationships to progress. When you can properly apologize to someone, it shows the genuine effort that you put into discussing your mistakes and attempting to move forward.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) facilitator Mallory Sunday provides academic and emotional assistance to students. Sunday, who has years of experience working with students in both a traditional classroom setting and more of a supporting role, shares some appropriate strategies to use while apologizing and trying to improve communication.

“Apologizing is important because it gives both people closure [on the situation]. If you get the chance to apologize and you are sincere about it, you give yourself the opportunity for growth and you allow the other person to know that you care about the issue,” Sunday said.

When you can truly admit you are wrong and acknowledge your behavior to the person who was affected, it strengthens your relationships and your skills related to healthy communication. Taking some time to reflect on the situation entirely and coming to the conscientious decision to sympathize with the other person also shows maturity and the willingness to be vulnerable even in uncomfortable circumstances.

Some issues can become difficult to confront because of the lack of comfort that you or the other person may have. Even though apologizing may seem straightforward, it can sometimes feel uncomfortable. It is still necessary, though, to apologize even in tense situations. It may be easy to send a text saying, “I am sorry,” but providing a detailed acknowledgment of your faults will be more beneficial in terms of how healthy your relationship will be.

“Being able to apologize in person with a genuine tone of voice is important. Taking the time to show [someone] that you genuinely mean [what you say] and not just saying, ‘I am sorry you feel that way,’ will make a difference,” Sunday said. “Listen and understand the things that you could do better.”

Understanding the importance of being able to reflect on what was said during an argument is also extremely beneficial. Even if you think what you said was correct, comprehending what the other person felt after you potentially said hurtful phrases are things to look out for when evaluating an argument.

Medical writer and executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter Julie Corliss writes about the significance of knowing when to apologize and how to do it properly.

“Even if you don’t think what you said or did was so bad, or believe that the other person was actually in the wrong, it’s still important to apologize when you’ve hurt or angered someone,” Corliss said. “That ability is one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence, which underlies healthy, productive relationships of all types.”

Trying to back down and admit your wrongs to somebody can be emotionally defeating, especially if you hurt them. Putting aside your pride can be extremely challenging and can result in doubling down. Doubling down means taking a further risk in a situation or trying to passionately prove your point by continuously making your argument seem correct. This strategy is easy to accidentally do when you can’t accept your faults and want to be viewed as correct. Consistently doubling down can make the situation way worse than it already is. Taking a minute to communicate logically without strong emotions gaining control can prevent doubling down during a disagreement.

“When you find yourself starting to double down, you need to make sure to be open-minded to the fact that you could be wrong. Many problems usually don’t have one factor to them, and emotions [tend to] play a really big role in decision-making in arguments,” Martinez said. “You could be right about a situation but be wrong on how it comes across. Doubling down is purely [triggered by] emotions and can be interpreted in the wrong way.”