Friday, June 8, 2012

Parenting Tips: How to Give a Sincere Apology

By Deborah Pace Rowley                   
Recently I read the book “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.  It is a book based on the final lecture Professor Pausch gave at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007 before his death from cancer in July 2008. This book and the lecture that inspired it included advice that Randy desired to give his three young children.
One of my favorite chapters had to do with how to give a correct apology. This was a lesson that Randy gave his students every year prior to assigning group projects or reports. He knew that they would end up offending each other or letting each other down at some point in their group work and he wanted them to be able to resolve their problem quickly.

I was so impressed with his three parts of a true apology that I taught them to my children. I wish that I had known this when my children were younger. I can remember saying regularly, “Tell your sister you’re sorry.” Immediately followed by, “You call that an apology? Say “I’m sorry” like you mean it!” But did they know how to say it like they meant it? Step 1: Don’t stick out your tongue after the “I’m sorry” part. Step 2: Follow these three rules. Brilliant! I still need this lesson as an adult.

First, Randy talks about two classic bad apologies. 1. “I’m sorry you feel hurt by what I’ve done.” This is subtle but the underlying message is that the blame lies with the other person. The problem is theirs for getting hurt. 2. “I apologize for what I did but you also need to apologize to me for what you did.” That is not giving an apology but asking for one.

An effective and sincere apology has these three parts:
  • I made a mistake and I am sorry. What I did was wrong. (Accept fault with no excuses.)
  •  I feel badly I hurt you. (Show you understand that your actions hurt the other person.)
  • What can I do to make things right again? (Make up for your actions willingly.)

Even young children can learn to say that what they did was wrong. They can recognize the hurt they caused someone else and they can try to make things right again. Try teaching this to your own children and practice the three parts together. Think of what better roommates, spouses and parents your own children will be when they know how to really apologize.

Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips