Whether it's discovering you're still subscribed to Tinder or crawling into bed stinking of Tequila before her big meeting, sorry always seems to be the hardest word. And getting someone to believe your apology is often the most difficult part.
Ohio State University has stepped in to save your bacon by coming up
with the six elements you need to include in your apology to get
yourself off the hook. Researchers tested 755 people on their reactions
to apologies which included the following six components:
- Expression of regret
- Explanation of what went wrong
- Ownership of responsibility
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- A request for forgiveness
The best reactions came from apologies which contained all six, but some were more important than others.
"Our findings showed that the most important component is an acknowledgement of responsibility. Say it is your fault, that you made a mistake," said
co-author of the research, Roy Lewicki. He went on to explain the second most important
element: an offer of repair. "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," he said.
Expressing regret, offering an explanation of what went wrong and decelerating your repentance are all the next most important offerings of peace. What you don't necessarily need? To ask for forgiveness, which when you think about it, is mostly just to soothe your own conscience.