Occasionally, we all need a free pass. National Get Out of the Doghouse Day on the third Monday in July offers the fast track home we all need once in a while.
Generally, when you are “in the doghouse,” you have fallen out of favour with someone, usually your spouse or significant other. However, you can also be “in the doghouse” with a friend or your boss at work. This day uses all those good cliches to get you back in the big house where you belong.
Here are some tips to get “out of the doghouse.”
- Put down the technology – If this is on your naughty list, don’t use email, texting, or other technology to apologise. A face to face or handwritten apology is best.
- Meet at a favourite coffee house – The purpose here is to start talking. Listen to what the other person has to say and do not be judgmental or defensive. Find out why you are “in the doghouse” and give suggestions on how you can improve or fix the issue.
- Send flowers, chocolates, or an appropriate gift – Include a hand-written note about how you are committed to fixing the issue. Do this AFTER you have already spoken. You will win extra brownie points as this will be unexpected. (Brownies will garner additional points, too!)
7 STEPS TO A GENUINE APOLOGY
We all make mistakes, and when we do, many times we end up hurting someone. That’s when it’s time for us to say we’re sorry. However, just saying the words isn’t enough. Hopefully, we don’t end up in the dog house very often. These steps to a genuine apology will hopefully get you out of the dog house and lead to fewer transgressions.
1. Recognise your mistake and understand what you did wrong
An apology doesn’t mean much if we’re just saying, “I’m sorry,” to get out of trouble with someone we care about. It’s essential to identify the issue so we can make an appropriate apology. Otherwise, we’re just looking for quick forgiveness.
2. Be sincere
A sincere apology shows in the presentation. Our words, body language, and how the apology is delivered all factor into its sincerity. The best apologies are offered in person whenever possible. Sometimes, though, the mistake is one that needs to be conveyed to a broader public that may be difficult to reach in person. These types of apologies need to consider every word used to be deemed sincere and genuine.
Face to face, we can ensure a sincere apology by looking directly at the person. Whatever we say, we should include the phrases “I’m sorry” or “I apologise.” The people we hurt need to hear those words. Avoid the words “if” and “but” since those words lead to placing the blame elsewhere.
3. Don’t delay
Once we realise our mistake, it’s important to apologise to the offended person as soon as we can. Yes, apologies can be awkward, and they should be, so we avoid repeating the same mistake. We’ve harmed someone, damaged a relationship. But delaying an apology can cause more damage, making the injured party think we’re ignoring the issue. Let the healing begin and swiftly!
4. Take ownership
Admitting to a mistake is often looked at as a reflection of our character. But what’s more revealing is how we handle making an apology. When we take ownership of a mistake, we avoid placing blame elsewhere. Blaming the weather, lack of sleep, or someone else involved in the circumstances makes for a weak apology.
5. Correct the behaviour
Our apology should include the steps we’re going to take to prevent future mistakes. The circumstance will dictate what we need to do. For chronic lateness, we might start using an alarm or a reminder on our calendar. If we’ve spoken hurtful words in anger, we may need to practice new techniques for stressful situations or even seek therapy. In the business world, correcting behaviour may include a change in policy or training.
When we apologise to someone, they will want to express their feelings about the situation. Let them talk. Listen to their feedback. We may learn something new about the situation or other ways to correct it.
7. Don’t expect a return apology
It’s not a competition. We don’t apologise to someone so they apologise to us. It’s not a race to see who apologises first. A genuine apology is about accepting that we’ve made an error, and then going forth and mending the damage done.
While following these steps may not lead to immediate forgiveness, it starts the healing. It’s also important to remember that we’re not always at fault. We shouldn’t apologise unless we mean it, and the mistake is truly our own. Open up a dialogue if there is confusion about an issue. Identify the concerns. Once the concerns have been discussed, if we find we’ve harmed someone, begin preparing that apology.