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What’s Next When Your Apology is Not Accepted

From Michael Toebe, writing in SmartBrief:

Apology, even a sincere, well-meaning one, is not always accepted. One’s name, credibility and reputation are mud. Forgiveness and trust are not granted. What then?

It can prove helpful to go through a detailed, yet simple process to increase the odds of your apology eventually being well-received.

Start with introspection and research of the dispute, ongoing conflict or crisis to create a specific problem statement of your situation. Do this first through a short, yet thorough, list of smart questions that you ask yourself with curiosity and uncompromising honesty.

Also, ask respectful questions of the party who is not unforgiving. Be humble and patiently seek to gather facts and learn from them.

Questions could look something like the following:

  • What is at the root of your error with someone that they feel angry to the point they are not offering forgiveness? What communication, actions or inaction were not received well, and why so? Put yourself in their shoes.
  • What are people communicating to you — verbally and with other behaviors and/or facial expressions and body language — about their dissatisfaction?
  • What do they expect now from you to heal negative emotions and make amends?
  • Have you courageously, humbly and clearly expressed genuine remorse? Does the upset party feel you have done so?
  • Have you apologized, with sincerity, listened well to those who are upset, shown patience and kept your composure, while taking the arrows of criticism?
  • Have you committed your full intention to make things right with them, also specifically asking what it would take for them to feel “whole” again?

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