You know what you did was wrong…you hurt someone and you feel guilt over it. Now it’s time to rebuild the relationship you jeopardized. What can you say to make the wronged party accept your apology?
Saying you’re sorry is more difficult for some than others, but it is important that what you say is sincere and heartfelt. An empty apology is often worse than none at all, creating more pressure on your relationship.
The first step is to own your wrongdoing. Take responsibility. Do not say things like, “I lost my temper because you…” or “I’m sorry I called you that name, but you make me so angry sometimes.” Blaming the wronged for your misdeed will not accomplish what you set out to do, and that is to mend your relationship. It will most likely re-stir the pot.
How to apologize if you are a…
Red. Believe it or not, you are not always right. You have a tendency to say hurtful things without even realizing it. This can be devastating to your relationships, both personal and professional. Apologizing is difficult for you because you can’t understand the emotional response the injured party is displaying. You must (emphasize, MUST) step back and ask yourself if being right is more important than your relationship with the person you hurt. Of all the colors, saying you’re sorry is the most difficult for Reds. Swallow your pride and apologize. Be sincere. If you mean it, show it.
Blue. You would never hurt anyone deliberately. After all, what you said was for his own good, right? You expect everyone to be as good as you are and can be judgmental if they aren’t. Regardless of your motives, you did hurt someone and you need to apologize. As with Reds, it is important to take 100% responsibility and not make sanctimonious statements like, “What I said was for your own good. I only wanted to help you.” Don’t hold a grudge. Move on to the task of rebuilding your relationship, always keeping in mind that nobody is perfect.
White. You may be more likely to hurt someone by your actions, rather than your words. When you are angry, you often retreat into yourself and stubbornly refuse to discuss it. This can make the person with whom the dissension is with think you don’t care about the relationship. As uncomfortable as it is for you, you must face the conflict that might arise. If you have wronged that person, you cannot remain silent. If a face-to-face apology is too difficult, compose a heartfelt email to explain your actions, ending in an “I’m sorry.”
Yellow. You can be flippant and sarcastic. Oftentimes you hurt someone by making him the butt of a joke. You must recognize that others might not understand your sense of humor and take things personally. When apologizing, do not try to lighten the offense. Don’t be afraid to face facts. It’s time to acknowledge that you have the tendency to be insensitive when being playful. Let them know you that their feelings matter to you.
How to apologize to a:
Red. This will be short and sweet for two reasons. First, Reds will probably have no idea why you are apologizing, and second, if they do know why, they will probably have already gotten over it. Don’t let that dissuade you from saying you’re sorry. A Red will respect you for owning your misdeed and that will go a long way to building your relationship.
Blue. Unlike Reds, Blues will remember. Forever. It is crucial that when you apologize to a Blue that it is sincere and heartfelt. You must tell them how much you appreciate everything they do and continue to emphasize that you are very sorry for your actions. Go the extra mile and assure them of your loyalty and your commitment to the relationship.
White. Whites avoid conflict at all cost, even when hearing an apology. You must treat them gently, but with open directness. Tell them you’re sorry without making excuses. Keep it short and simple. Watch for nonverbal clues that your apology has been accepted. They might not be forthcoming about how much you hurt them, or if your apology hit home.
Yellow. Yellows might appear nonchalant about how much your slight affected them. Remember that Yellows are more sensitive than they appear. When apologizing to them, make it about the Yellow. Tell them how much you love being around them, and how much your relationship with them means to you. Most often, a Yellow is happy to accept your apology and get on with living life.
When your mother told you, “Tell so and so you’re sorry”, it was the first building block in your interpersonal skills development. It is still important. By apologizing for your actions, you are letting someone know that they, and your relationship with them, are of value to you. CC
Teresa Glenn has been working with the Color Code since 2006, where her main focus is product development. She has been in the publishing and product development field for over 20 years. Teresa is a core Red with a strong Yellow secondary.