UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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November 2013: “Cultivating Deposits in our Emotional Bank Account: Apologizing Sincerely When We Make a Withdrawal”

In every relationship, we consciously or unconsciously make occasional withdrawals. This is expected now and then, however, the way we handle it matters significantly in whether or not we restore the partnership. If we want to have thriving relationships, we need to learn the art of embodying a sincere apology. If you have ever apologized badly, you know that this is indeed an art. Offering a sincere apology requires self-reflection first. We need to examine the damage we’ve done, notice the impact it has had, and attempt to remedy the situation, where possible.

Then comes the fun and often challenging part…designing the apology. Since over 90% of communication is non-verbal, spending time crafting the words, body, vocal tone and facial expression will likely serve us well. Sincere apologies are best done in person, eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart. When we are physically and emotionally ‘present’ and remorseful about the harm we’ve done, we increase our chances of being forgiven and repairing the relationship. After delivering your apology, invite your partner to share what’s going on for them and listen deeply. You may hear further insights about what matters to them, which will hopefully help you avoid making the same mistake twice.

In the coming month, practice offering sincere apologies when you notice you’ve made a relationship withdrawal. If you are a beginner at this practice, try the apology out first behind the scenes before engaging your partner. Use a mirror as you speak to observe and change your tone and any other body language that might indicate insincerity. Notice how offering sincere apologies makes a difference in restoring and healing your relationship.


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