Despite the saying "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all," there are times when you might find yourself willfully disregarding this advice and viciously maligning another individual with cruel and hateful words. If you have cussed someone out and are regretting your actions, the best thing you can do is offer a sincere and timely apology. Although there is no way to take your words back, an apology can help mend the situation and repair any damage you may have done.
Offering Remorse for Hurtful Words
Apologize to the person that you cussed out by clearly stating that you are sorry for the language and tone that you used while addressing him. Even though you may feel that part of your tirade was justified, avoid offering any explanations or excuses, because these will weaken the sincerity of your apology. Clearly state that you are sorry and specifically state what you are sorry for. Failure to include both these elements in your apology will make your apology seem insincere or flippant.
Ask the person to forgive you for having cussed her out. Although you cannot take your words back, by asking the person to forgive you for your actions, you are letting her know that you acknowledge having done wrong and that you value your relationship with her. Asking for forgiveness lets the person know that you wish to restore your relationship and mend hurt feelings.
Make an attempt to understand how your tongue lashing may have made the other person feel. Did you use particularly hurtful or hate-fueled words? By understanding how the other person is feeling, you will be able to specifically tailor your apology to the situation and to his feelings. Acknowledging and validating his feelings in the process of apologizing will make your apology more sincere and will make it easier for him to accept the apology.
Offer to make some kind of restitution. Offers of compensation are most successful when they are closely connected to the offense. Although you cannot take your words back, you may be able to rectify some consequences of your words. For example, if you cussed the person out in front of others, you may offer to clear the person's name so that the witnesses understand that you regret your choice of words.
- Journal of Psycholinguistic Research: How Effective Are the Things People Say to Apologize? Effects of the Realization of the Apology Speech Act
- Pick the Brain: 5 Steps to An Effective Apology
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Interpersonal Forgiving in Close Relationships: II. Theoretical Elaboration and Measurement
- Journal of Experimental Social Psychology: Better late than early: The influence of timing on apology effectiveness
Karen L. Blair has been professionally writing since 2001. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the "Journal of Sex Research," "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" and "Psychology & Sexuality." Blair received her M.Sc. in psychology at Acadia University and her Ph.D. in social psychology at Queen's University. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow and research consultant.