Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?
Have you ever said something and wish you had bitten your tongue?
Have you ever exploded on someone for no good reason?
Probably you have, too.
Maybe you were abrasive.
Maybe you were self-righteous.
Maybe you were argumentative.
Maybe you simply forgot to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
What do you do when you mess up?
What do you do when you rub someone the wrong way?
Why not apologize?
Admit that you’re human. That you needlessly hurt their feelings. That you needlessly embarrassed or shamed them.
Apologizing well is an art.
By “apologizing well” I mean apologizing in such a way that the other person knows that you ARE sorry. That you do regret what you’ve done. That you want to clear the air and make it right.
That you want their forgiveness and another chance.
If you are sorry, tell the person exactly what you did wrong. Tell the person that you are sorry for what you’ve done to them.
And ask them to forgive you.
Whether you’re working out conflict with co-workers, or debating small government vs. Big Government, it’s easy to get caught up in “being right.”
It’s easy to needlessly hurt the feelings of the other person, or step on their toes.
When you do, immediately admit your blunder. Immediately apologize.
Not some vague, abstract, “If I might have done anything that might have been misunderstood …” phony apology.
A real one.
One you mean.
People are enormously forgiving when you admit your sin, say you’re sorry, and try to make it right.
They give you another chance, a clean slate.
If you’re like me, you’ll mess up, hurt people’s feelings, and feel very bad about it.
If you want to start fresh, and mend fences, why not apologize?
Persuasion is about building bridges, not walls.
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Michael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.
In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.