How to Apologize
Apologizing is an important element to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Sometimes apologizing is tricky but a sincere apology can make both parties feel better and help you to move on to happier times. Why is apologizing so challenging for some people? Apologizing makes you very vulnerable and opens you up to criticism, blame, and attacks. When you apologize, you also have to recognize your flaws and shortcomings and this does not feel so good. It takes a lot of courage and integrity to apologize. No one likes to work with, be friends with, or date someone who cannot admit when they mess up or take responsibility for their mistakes.
Here is a guide to delivering a sincere apology:
- Ask for permission or state that you would like the opportunity to apologize
- Take responsibility for your behaviors; clearly state what you did or said that was wrong
- Acknowledge that you hurt the other person
- Discuss appropriate behaviors and boundaries in your relationship
- Express regret and remorse
- Express that you will try to avoid making the same mistake again
- Don’t make promises about your behavior that you cannot keep
- Ask for forgiveness
- Reflect on your behavior, the apology, and how you want to move forward
- Let it go; after you apologize sincerely once, it is okay to move on and put your mistake behind you
Think about the above list the next time it is your turn to apologize!
How To Be a Good Listener
Communication is a two way street and the listener plays a very important role in facilitating communication. Often with good listening skills you can extract more information and provide comfort and support without verbally saying anything at all. Listening skills are essential in so many professions. Counselors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, and clergy all need to have sharp listening skills in order to do their jobs effectively. Actually, all professions and individuals can benefit from good listening skills. Listening, like any skill set, is something that you need to practice and perfect. When individuals feel heard, they feel validated and understood. Actively listening to someone is a way of showing them respect and letting them know that their story and experience matters. Here are some tips to improve your listening skills:
Pay attention to nonverbal body language– When you are listening make an effort to reflect emotion with your face: tilt your head, raise your eyebrows, smile, and open your eyes wide to provide nonverbal feedback about your speaker’s message. Nod your head to encourage your speaker to continue talking and stay still or look down when you want your speaker to slow down or stop.
Be aware of your expressions- Try not to show judgement with your facial expressions. If you know that you are going to be talking about a difficult subject, try to prepare yourself in advance for what your speaker may say. Try to express compassion, interest, and patience with your face. Practice reflecting these emotions in the mirror so you see how you look when you want to convey these messages. If you do not have a good “poker face” try to develop one.
Summarize and reflect what your speaker is saying– You can achieve this by creating a question or statement out of the last few words your speaker says. If your speaker says: “I feel like I am going crazy, I can’t take living at my house anymore, every day I feel so stressed and angry at home.” Then you follow by saying – “It sounds like home is an environment that is creating a lot of stress and anger for you.” This technique makes your speaker feel understood and validated and will encourage him to provide additional information.
Confirm you are getting the right message– Try saying, “What I hear you saying is…….. am I correct?” Avoid making assumptions and check to make sure you understand your speaker.
Be aware of personal space and other cultural differences– Different cultures and individuals have different comfort levels regarding personal space. Do not overcrowd your speaker. Do not feel offended or disrespected if your speaker avoids eye contact with you. Pay attention to their nonverbal cues and body language and ask your speaker how you can make him feel more comfortable.
Do not interrupt- Allow your speaker to finish his statement. If you catch yourself interrupting, apologize. If you have to end the conversation early, apologize and schedule a time to continue the conversation.
Put your technology away- Avoid having conversations when the television or radio is on. If you need to have some background noise, try a sound machine or instrumental music. Put your phone and computer away too. You want to give your speaker your undivided attention.
Less can be more– You do not always have to respond, offer advice, give an opinion, or defend yourself. You can say a lot with nonverbal communication and body language. Sometimes in a conversation, fewer words are better.
Be courteous– Whether you liked your speaker’s message or not, thank them for their time and the information. Show respect with your language. Ask for feedback; ask if you could have done anything that would have improved the conversation.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness month and this is a great time of the year to reflect on your brain and emotional wellbeing! Your brain is the most important organ in your body and just like sometimes your heart, kidneys, or blood pressure can get out of whack, your brain can also get offline. The good news is that you can do so many things to prevent this and to keep your mind healthy. Just like you go to the gym to keep your body in good shape, there are numerous things that you can do to keep your mind in good shape such as:
Practicing positive self-talk
Spending time with your support system
There are many great resources online to learn about mental health. It is very important to be an educated consumer of research and to understand that not everything that you read online is accurate. The below list includes reliable sources that you can trust to learn more about mental health. During the month of May take time to reflect, learn about, and work on your mental health!
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The Kim Foundation
Treatment Advocacy Center
Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School