We’ve all been in the situation: we’ve done something stupid and need to ask for forgiveness. Having to go before a person we care about (or even a stranger) and say sorry can be one of the most difficult things we ever have to do. But, as everyone knows, if you want a relationship of any kind to succeed, it will involve apologies and the need for forgiveness from time to time.
One reason why apologies are so difficult is because few people know how to give a sincere, effective apology. And, anytime you have to do something that is awkward and unfamiliar, it can come across as insincere and ineffective.
The issue is made more difficult by modern technology. Not only do people struggle with apologies, but now you have to even learn how to apologize over text, as well! I’ve explained how to apologize in certain situations, but this article will focus specifically on saying sorry over text message.
Do It In Person
If you’ve done something that is especially bad to another person, you should definitely work up the courage to apologize in person. For example, if you let down someone you love (like by cheating or causing serious harm), apologizing over text might look like you’re trying to avoid facing the other person. It looks cowardly.
However, there are times when saying sorry over message, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or another app, is not only appropriate, but the best way forward. For example, if it’s a small argument or you won’t see the person for awhile, better to apologize over text than let the argument continue and fester.
So, if you’ve determined this is a moment when it’s a good idea to apologize over text, this article is for you! But, if you’re seeing the person soon or it’s a bigger matter, man (or woman) up and say you’re sorry to that person’s face!
When using text, it’s easy to resort to quick answers, abbreviations, and slang. That’s the nature of texting: it saves time and simplifies the communication process. However, if there’s one thing that needs to be thoughtful and clear, it’s an apology.
Apologies offer health benefits to the giver and receiver, so it’s important to be authentic and honest. So, make sure you when you’re crafting your apology that you make your wording as clear as possible. One major advantage of texting is that you actually have time to write a clear, concise, heartfelt apology and proofread it before you hit send. Take advantage of that!
“Mistakes were made”
“I’m sorry you got upset”
These are examples of lousy apologies. And, many apologies are terrible because they are too general and vague. When you’re apologizing, you need to know why you’re doing it and convey that fact to the other person.
My mom would sometimes ask me when I said sorry, “do you even know why you’re apologizing?” She meant that I was saying sorry just to get her off of my back (which was likely true). However, if you want your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, or whomever to know that you are sincere, then you need to give details about what you did wrong.
And, yes this applies to apologizing over text! A good apology will specifically say what you want forgiven with a little detail. So, you can say, “I’m sorry that I didn’t arrive on time and made everyone late” or “I apologize for hurting your feelings at the basketball game.”
Even though you want to be specific, knowing how to apologize over text also means that you don’t grovel or provide too many details. So, while you’ll identify what you did, avoid going overboard. Using the previous example, you don’t want to say, “I apologize for making you feel bad at the game. I shouldn’t have told all of our friends how annoying and whiny you were at the pool when mom took your phone.”
The person to whom you’re apologizing will know the details of the story. No need to reopen the wounds or getting him or her thinking about all the ugly, painful details of your actions. Be specific, but keep it concise!
Give Reasons (Within Limits)
The person you wronged might care about your motivations. Or, he or she might not care at all and find your efforts to explain yourself to be annoying. However, I’ve found that good apologies involve a little effort to explain yourself.
For example, you could say, “I apologize for making you feel bad at the game. I just started rambling and ended up putting my foot in my mouth.” That explains that it wasn’t intentional and you had a foolish moment. And, it doesn’t sound like a bad excuse.
In fact, when you explain yourself, make sure that it doesn’t turn into what comes across as an excuse. If you take responsibility for your actions, but then immediately make excuses for why it wasn’t your fault, the apology is going to lose its effectiveness quickly.
Don’t Do It Again
When you’re apologizing, you don’t want your words, even if given over a phone or tablet, to be empty. In other words, talk is cheap. What really matters is changed behavior. So, if you apologize for something, you should tell the person that you won’t do it again. Or, at the very least, tell him or her you’ll do your best if you feel like promising “never again” is impossible.
So, you could tell him or her: “I know I was out of line and I promise it won’t happen again.” But, if you say you’re not going to do it again, then you’d better keep your word and do the right thing in the future. Otherwise, you’ll have to go through the entire apology process, which isn’t any fun.
So, if you’ve messed up, make sure to say you’re sorry. If you must do that over text, then this article will help you do it the right way. Then, the person you care about can hopefully forgive and forget.