How to Accept an Apologybymoonstormer©
I recently wrote a how-to on here that gave a step-by-step guide on how to apologize. Yet this has still left a void, I realize, so here is the counterpart to the apologizing instructions.
So, you've had a conflict. Whether you've already done your apologizing, or you are the rare "completely-wronged-I-didn't-do-anything" party, you are about to receive an apology. But it's just not that simple. If a person apologizes correctly, they will be showing their remorse, and a simple, "okay" is often not a proper acceptance. So here are some simple instructions to help you and the apologizer move forward in peace.
1) Get your concerns/issues/problems/complaints straight in your own head, first. After a fight, the real causes get lost, so it is important to really know why you were upset and/or hurt. This links with step 2.
2) Figure out what would make you feel better. This is VERY IMPORTANT! You must know what kind of apology you want, and how you want to move forward. Otherwise, if you are not satisfied with the apology you receive, you will not exactly know why, and not be able to voice your concerns or what would make the situation better. These need to be concrete actions/words; vague statements such as "let me know you care" or "leave me alone" or similar demands are difficult to fulfill and vary from person to person. Therefore, you must clarify for yourself what you mean with these ideas, and express them clearly to the other party.
3) Try to find your own fault in the situation. Are you setting the other person up for failure? Are your demands reasonable? Try to see what you are doing to help or hinder the communication, and its breakdown, and change this behavior. These could also be good things to bring up when receiving the apology, as this avoids the "I'm the good one, you're the bad one" element that makes many people unwilling to apologize.
Receiving the apology:
1) LISTEN TO THE OTHER PERSON! Often, people are not satisfied with an apology, because they do not listen to it. The other person is trying to make amends, give them a shot.
2) If you feel that the apology does not address the issue (as you figured out in the preparatory stage), calmly and clearly explain what the issue is to the other party. Explain that you recognize their wanting to apologize, but that you don't think they understand why it is that you're upset.
3) LET THE PERSON FINISH! This is another key problem. Often, while receiving an apology, the "wronged" party will interrupt and remind the person of what they did, that they're hurt, etc. Let the other person give the whole apology, then you can point out your issues as explained in point 2. Remember, you want to feel better, and the only way you can feel better is if the other person makes amends, but the other way the other party can make amends is if you let them get a word in. This can be difficult, I know, especially if you are still hurt. If you find it too hard, though, it might be better to tell the person that you recognize their remorse, but at this point you're still too angry for this conversation.
4) Now it's time to accept the apology. This does not mean you have to say you forgive the person, because sometimes that just takes time. But now would be the time to say that you accept the apology, that you feel better about the situation, that things have been made right. You can still say that you need time before you'll feel completely better, or before the person is fully forgiven, but you need to close the book on this.
5) Here could be a good time to bring up some of the things that you did wrong. Let the other person know that you acknowledge your own responsibility for the situation, and that you're also going to try to change in the future.
After the apology:
1) So, they apologized. Now you need to move forward. First of all, if anything still bothers you or bubbles up, approach the person in a calm way, explaining clearly and simply what is bothering you, and give the person a chance to respond. This is not excuse to keep having the same fight! You accepted the apology, you both are trying to move forward, so only do this if the issue still feel unresolved to you a day or two later.
2) Be kind. Remember, the other person feel bad and will still be filled with feelings of remorse. Don't make it any worse. You don't have to act all sweet or like everything is completely better, but don't use the situation to your advantage and make the other party feel as though their apology wasn't really accepted or didn't really move things in the right direction. If you need your pound of flesh, get it during the apology, not afterwards.
3) Try not to bring this issue back up in the next fight! Of course if it is directly related, it makes sense, but to bring up everything that you've ever fought about with someone just escalates the issue, instead of trying to move towards resolution. When you fight, remember that you're trying to solve a disagreement/misunderstanding – don't fight just because you can't back down, just try to explain your position as clearly as possible.