Don’t apologize for what you think you did wrong. Apologize for what they think you did wrong:
Apologies are useful social tools that can act as catalysts in the resolution of conflict and inspire forgiveness. Yet as numerous real-world blunders attest, apologies are not always effective. Whereas many lead to forgiveness and reconciliation, others simply fall on deaf ears. Despite the fact that apologies differ in their effectiveness, most research has focused on apologies as dichotomous phenomena wherein a victim either (a) receives an apology or (b) does not. Psychological research has yet to elucidate which components of apologies are most effective, and for whom. The present research begins to address this gap by testing the theory that perpetrators’ apologies are most likely to inspire victim forgiveness when their components align with victims’ self-construals. Regression and hierarchical linear modeling analyses from two studies support the primary hypotheses. As predicted, victims reacted most positively to apologies that were congruent with their self-construals.
Source: “When apologies work: How matching apology components to victims’ self-construals facilitates forgiveness” from Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
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