** This article was originally published in Concrete **
At some point or another, all of us will have said or done something that’s hurt or offended someone else. It could have been a simple mistake, a badly phrased joke or a seemingly innocent comment which touched a nerve. As Elton sang, sorry seems to be the hardest word to say, but say it we must. The real question is, what’s the best way to go about apologising?
1) Apologise quickly. As soon as you realise that you have offended or hurt somebody say sorry. There’s no point wallowing in your own guilt, or feeling embarrassed. The earlier you say sorry, the less time both of you spend feeling bad, and the more likely you’re apology will be forgiven.
2) Be sincere. Nothing is more offensive than an insincere apology.
3) Intent doesn’t matter. Even if you never meant to cause offense, the fact that you have means you have to acknowledge your fault.
4) Acknowledge your responsibility. Just saying sorry sometimes isn’t enough, you need to make sure the other person knows you know what was wrong. Things like ‘I’m sorry you got offended’ are the worst culprits on the faux apology circuit. Try rephrasing to ‘I’m sorry I offended you’. This shifts the subject of the sentence onto the offender, rather than the offended.
5) Face to face is best. Looking into the persons eyes when we apologise will cement your sincerity. If you’re unable to apologise face to face, then send them a message or give them a ring apologising, and offer to meet up to talk it over if it’s something more serious.
6) Understand if they don’t accept it. Nine times out of ten, provided you apologise swiftly and sincerely, they will accept it. However, if, for whatever reason, they chose not to, then don’t hound them about it. Accept it and move on – chances are they just need a little time or distance.
Awards season has given us more than our fair share of celebrity mistakes, and they have had varying successes at apologising afterwards. If you’re looking for a good guideline to follow, Giulianna Rancic’s apology to Zendaya Coleman ticks all the boxes. Rancic made a racist joke on her show ‘Fashion Police’ about Zendaya’s hair. Shortly after the show was aired Zendaya turned to twitter to express how hurt she was by this remark. The next day, Giulianna Rancic made a video, not only apologising to Zendaya and anyone else she offended, but also highlighting the depth of the problem with her joke. Despite the fact it was later revealed that she did not write the joke, and the producers decided not to edit the joke out, she accepted full responsibility for her words.
Saying sorry can be hard, for both parties involved, but it’s much better to apologise than to have caused long lasting hurt.