There is such a thing as a credible apology. I have seen it given, heard the words and witnessed the very moving acceptance. I saw this happen many times. So I have compared what I witnessed to the thousands of non-credible apologies that fall flat. I broke down all the aspects and preparation performed to create a credible apology. The Receiver of the apology will benefit from preparation for hearing and deciding how to react to an apology.
In my line of work, the biggest obstacle of most apologies I see is that the apologizer is prohibited from admitting guilt. I am a forensic foreign language linguist in the judicial and law enforcement fields. My clients, top lawyers, detectives and mediators clear that hurdle with this same process which also works for apologies in your personal life.
You may not be able to accept or benefit emotionally from an apology where the Giver has not admitted guilt. And that is not only understandable, it is your right to not accept an apology. If it shows that the Giver recognizes how you can feel the way you do and that you both have an analogous view of the event and offers regret for the outcome that will take space in the void of not hearing anything at all. Focusing on expectations that the Giver will say exactly what you want to hear sets you up for disappointment. If the giver of the apology is in a position of power, lives a sheltered existence and/or has a large ego may have no experience being wronged in such a way as you were. That type of person needs to be enlightened before they can have empathy.
Part One: Empathy Development
Start with finding out what you don’t know. Why do they feel they did nothing wrong? This will take research and investigation on your part.
· Define and qualify “wrong” in their terms not yours.
· Know that the Giver will approach the wrong as qualitative, not quantitative.
· Know that if the Giver personally committed the wrong then it is a personal event now in his or her life also.
· Know that if the Giver is a representative or head of the company that committed the wrong that all participants will know about the apology.
The Receiver of the apology should be able to reiterate the POV of the Giver comfortably in their own words.
· Spend the time needed to get comfortable hearing about what stopped the Giver from avoiding or impeding the event from taking place.
· Acknowledge the level of difficulty in making such an apology for this specific person.
· Know that you need to acknowledge the apology. But you get to decide if or if not you will accept it.
· Don’t expect reparations or amends as a part of an apology.
· Acknowledge the change being made to bar such an incident ever happening again.
· Express appreciation that they apologized.