Communication Tools Foster Healthy Relationships: The 4-Part Apology
This month’s Key, Integrity, is closely related to how we communicate with each other and how we show up in relationships. Communication skills are essential in fostering healthy relationships, and having the right tools at our disposal leads to better relationships and more success in life.
Mistakes are inevitable. We ALL know that Failure Leads to Success! But even when we do our absolute best to live a life of integrity and honor, emotions can sometimes take over. We may sometimes find ourselves saying things we don’t mean or doing things we know we shouldn’t do. When an apology is needed, the 4-Part Apology is a communication tool that allows us to resolve conflict in a thoughtful and supportive manner instead of in anger or defense. It’s an effective strategy to use with friends, family, students and even teachers. Here’s how it works:
Acknowledge: Take responsibility, or ownership, for what you’ve done. There’s no such thing as a sincere apology without an acknowledgment! Use “I” statements to show that you’re the one behind the actions.
Example: “I acknowledge that I hurt your feelings when I said those things about you.”
Apologize: The words “I apologize” are much more powerful than just “sorry.” Apologize using these words outright! Acknowledge the cost to anyone involved. If you’re unaware of the cost, then just ask.
Example: “I apologize for hurting you and I realize that I may have upset our friendship.”
Make it Right: Ask the person or people affected by your actions, “Is there anything I can do to make it right?” If they don’t have anything specific in mind, offer something.
Example: “What can I do to make it right?”
Recommit: Make a recommitment to appropriate behavior in the future! Express that you plan on doing your best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Example: “I agree to try and speak with good purpose from now on.”
Clearing the air with the 4-Part Apology relieves tension and helps us to genuinely resolve conflicts. It releases positive energy, creates synergy between all those involved (especially if it’s been building up for a long time) and allows everyone to just move on! The power of the 4-Part Apology lies in its ability to demonstrate that we’re taking responsibility for our actions (ownership). When the people in our lives realize that we’re willing and able to do that, they’ll be more open and trusting with us and our relationships will be better. And as Bobbi DePorter once said, “Communication is the universal relationship fuel. Communication grows relationships and relationships grow success.”
Want more? Here’s a video from Steve on the 4-Part Apology.