According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pride can be defined as either inordinate self-esteem or justifiable self-respect. If your display of pride is of the first type, apologizing will indeed diminish it, but that is just what is needed for you to say you're sorry for your behavior. And the act of apologizing will promote the second definition of pride by improving your character in setting things right in your relationships. Apologizing, however, need not mean that you give up your dignity. You can apologize in a meaningful way without embarrassing yourself or feeling trod upon.
You should acknowledge to yourself that apologizing will be difficult if it is important to you to be right, or you view an apology as an act of giving up power, says Beverly Engel in her book, "The Power of Apology: Healing Steps to Transform All Your Relationships." But addressing a fear of being wrong, weak or losing power in your relationship can make it easier for you to take steps toward reconciliation.
When considering apologizing, think about what you are going to say before you attempt to make amends. Doing so will help you to keep from saying something defensive, or going into an unnecessarily long-winded apology.
Make sure that you state what you are apologizing for in a specific and concise manner. This indicates that you are aware of why you upset the other party. For example, you could say, "Not letting you know that I'd already made plans for Saturday night when you were expecting to spend time with me was inconsiderate." You don't have to go on and say, "I'm so incredibly sorry," or "I was such a jerk." Making the apology is sufficient, and keeping it simple will make you appear emotionally strong and confident.
Indicate that you are aware that your actions harmed the other person, and that his/her feelings matter to you. This is the heart of an apology, says psychologist Denise Cummins in an April 2013 article in "Psychology Today." Doing so "affirms your humanity and that of the injured party," notes Cummins. And remember, demonstrating that you care about another person's feelings does not make you appear weak, just compassionate.
Finally, let the person know you will not repeat the behavior. If you struggle with pride, you may feel that doing so indicates you are allowing the other person to dictate how you live your life. But that is not true. You are simply offering reassurance that you will not hurt the person again by repeating the same actions. For example, if you told your friends personal details about your boyfriend's life, it is appropriate to let him know that in the future you will not divulge such confidences in conversations without his approval.
- Merriam-Webster: Pride
- "The Power of Apology -- Healing Steps to Transform All Your Relationships"; Beverly Engel
- Psychology Today: Are You Big Enough to Apologize?
- Focus on making the other person feel better, not whether or not the act of apologizing make you feel bad about yourself.
- If the person you are apologizing to makes statements that encourage you to admit weakness or inferiority, you don't need to continue the conversation. People who make these demands are asking for submission, not an apology.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.
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