Conflict resolution is different than conflict management. To resolve a conflict requires reconciliation between both parties…but reconciliation normally starts with one of the parties taking the initiative to make peace. If you have wronged someone go and apologize. You can’t truly reconcile unless the other party forgives you… whether or not the other party forgives you is out of your hands. Your duty is to do everything in your power to reconcile. Apologies are the first (but not the only) steps toward reconicliation (i.e. peace making). Here are a few tried and true tips when making an apology:
1. Prepare in advance. Perhaps you weren’t 100% at fault when you wronged the other person. Forgive the other person for their part (if any) in the conflict before you go to apologize for your part. To apologize is to acknowledge and take responsibility for the wrong you did. Think through your words and your attitude.
2. Take full responsibility for your part in the conflict. Don’t make excuses or pass blame when you are apologizing. It is not the time for excuses. For example:
Don’t Say: I’m sorry if you felt you were hurt.
Say: I’m sorry I hurt you.
Don’t Say: I’m sorry, but if you had been listening better, I wouldn’t have said that.
Say: I’m sorry for what I said. I was wrong.
Don’t say: I’m sorry that you didn’t understand what I meant.
Say: I’m sorry that I didn’t communicate clearly.
3. Ensure restitution (if applicable). Restitution is payment for the damage you caused. If you bash someones car you should pay for the damages. Restitution is not always possible but when it is possible, do all in your power to restore what was lost, damaged, or destroyed.
If you have wronged someone take the intuitive to make it right.
On a spritual note, it is interesting that the Bible uses the word “confess” rather than apologize. It says that if we confess our wrongs (i.e. sins) to God that God will forgive us. The Bible also uses the term “repent” as part of the formula for reconciliation. Repent means to “turn away from” sin/wrong doing. So the concept of apologizing seems to be consistent whether we are dealing with our earthly relations or our heavenly one.