Yikes! You did it... you really, really did it wrong this time. That's why you need a creative apology to mend the relationship. Apologies only work when they meet the needs of the specific type of offense. So really make it count.
1. The Eye of the Storm Apology
Your beloved is joyously devouring that third slice of bacon double-chocolate cheesecake. You casually inquire, "You were planning on going back to Weight Watchers, weren't you?"
When you hurt someone's feelings, they'll usually express a storm of emotions. Don't take their expression as an attack. Prepare your invisible "windshield" to guard you from their projectile ventilation. Turn on your "windshield wipers" so you can see clearly where they are really coming from. You need to be the "eye of the storm" that sees who they really are. Calm them down. Reassure them of their implicit value.
Perfect Apology - Gift and Compliment: Give them a gift certificate that counteracts your blunder and include a heartfelt note with it explaining your apology and that the certificate is to honor what you offended.
2. The Humiliation Navigation Failure Apology
You say, "Bob next door is making loads of money. You should ask him how you too can succeed." Or worse, in a crowded room, you humiliate your beloved: "You think that's bad? He wet the bed until he was 18! Good thing he finally had that breakthrough in therapy."
You caused someone to experience a sense of inadequacy or shame. They may want to retreat into a nice, dark cave.
Perfect Apology - Treasure Hunt: Make clues related to ways or times he's succeeded. The "treasure" should reflect that the offendee is the treasure. Be simple. Include a card stating that you are grateful for all he is, and all he does.
3. The I-Don't-Know-This-Person Moment Apology
You get a little tipsy after uncle Herbert's funeral, and start belting out his favorite show tune Officer Krupke from Westside Story, "in his memory." You embarrass yourself and whomever you're with.
Perfect Apology - Etiquette Education: Gift wrap a book like Etiquette for Dummies. Bookmark the page that addresses the gaffe you committed with a note saying, "NEVER AGAIN" and give it to the offended party. Explain that you'll never let the embarrassment reoccur.
4. The Lady Mary Apology
If you're a Downtown Abbey fan, you'll remember what transpired in the last season between Lady Mary and Lady Edith. Whether it was intentional or not, you too did something that resulted in a disaster or ruin for someone else.
The Perfect Apology - Replace and Restore: If you made your sister's beau run for the hills, fetch him back. Or get her a lifetime subscription to eHarmony. If you cheated, book a counseling couples retreat with your partner immediately. If you spilled a jar of ink on your roommate's dress, go shopping with her and buy her a new one.
5. The "I'm Sorry, Dr. Evil" Apology
You're embroiled in a one time or ongoing conflict with someone who throws you under the bus or hurts you, but you haven't exactly been Mother Teresa to him either. You stepped on their toe, but they backed over your foot with a trailer tractor.
The Perfect Apology - Gift Basket: You don't want any incriminating record, written or verbal, in their clutches. Include a note in the basket saying you appreciate their patience and understanding during this stressful situation.
6. The Groundhog Day Apology
Ugh, not this fight again. You've tried to quit smoking, but you started in high school. Or you can't stop yourself from constantly interrupting. It's how your family always communicated.
The Perfect Apology - A Count-ability Jar: Put in a dollar every time you repeat your unwanted habit. Keep a log. Let the offendee decide where the funds go. When your repetitive transgression finally fades away, count how much you invested and celebrate together.
7. The "Are We Cool, Bro?" Apology
Some people cringe when they are on the receiving end of an apology. For whatever reason, they desperately don't want to make a big deal of it. They mutter, "Okay, okay, no worries," Or change the subject. Honor their needs, but make amends.
The Perfect Apology - Thoughtful Gesture: Keep verbal apologies minimal. At most, "Are we cool?" Or, "Sorry back there." Observe what they appreciate or need. As soon as possible, leave the wine connoisseur a vintage bottle on his doorstep. Wash the offendee's filthy car as a surprise.
Taking Responsibility Is Effective
It's counterintuitive, but the very good news is that taking full responsibility is the antidote to guilt and shame when you've committed an offense. When you confess and act to make things better, you feel better and so do they. May these creative apologies help you in your efforts toward reconciliation.