Making meaningful amends with coworkers or friends is powerful for both the giver of the apology and the receiver. When done right, apology gifts can take that contrition to the next level and help facilitate true healing.
People receiving an apology gift often feel validated and report a peaceful sense of closure. They feel cared for or valued. The giver often feels relief. Apologizing with a gift doesn’t erase the wrongdoing, but acknowledging it is altogether proper and respectful.
Dos and Don’ts of Apology Gift Giving
If considering a gift to go along with your apology, take heed. You don’t want the gift to be seen as a bribe or overstepping boundaries. When you apologize for serious wrongdoing, take it slow while easing back into the relationship. Healing takes time.
Depending on the person and your comfort level, keep these tips in mind when giving a gift while saying you’re sorry.
Do Be Sincere
Show honesty and sincerity when apologizing with a gift. Do you want to do this in person or in writing?
If in person, put the gift to the side first. Make eye contact. Use your words and body language to demonstrate that you understand what happened. Then give the present if it seems to be going well.
If you’re doing this in writing, choose your words carefully. Ask a neutral party to read the message before sending it to ensure it reads as sincere and thoughtful.
Whether in writing or in person, take full responsibility for what you’ve done wrong. This doesn’t have to be lengthy. You can simply say, “I’m sorry,” and leave it at that. You can also say you regret what happened or that you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Don’t Make Excuses
Make it clear that you feel remorse for what you’ve done. Practice in front of a mirror or with a partner, if needed, to convey genuine sorrow. Don’t add a “but” after you say you’re sorry. This might seem like a justification and ruin the moment.
Accept full responsibility. Now is not the time to offer excuses or blame other people. This is about you saying you’re sorry in a genuine way that resonates with the person who means so much to you.
Do Discuss Consequences
Demonstrate you understand that for every action, there is a reaction. Accepting the blame and consequences is part of meaningful amends, with or without a gift. You’re not expecting the relationship to heal instantly, and you don’t want to pressure someone to accept your apology immediately.
Tell the person to whom you’re apologizing to take their time. Acknowledge that it’s a lot to absorb. Accept the fact that they might not react with grace or forgiveness. The important thing is that you say you’re sorry. Whether they accept it or forgive you is up to them. Respect the process.
Don’t Make False Promises
Reassure the person that you’re learning from what went wrong. At the same time, don’t overpromise and say you won’t ever do this again. You might very well mean that, but it might sound hyperbolic or insincere. Just show you’re willing to learn from this to become a better person and avoid such mistakes in the future.
Why Gift-Giving Apologies Are Effective
Some people strongly believe in sending along a token of apology. Maybe an apology gift basket or apology care package feels like the right thing to send when making amends.
Apology gifts go over well when saying you’re sorry if you and the other person enjoy a strong, long-lasting relationship. Or perhaps you’ve made a mistake that’s more easily forgivable. The right gift might help to mend things sooner rather than later.
Other factors to consider when sending such gifts:
- Take time to put some thought into it.
- Pick something that shows you’re thinking about them.
- Send along a card or letter with a meaningful message.
- Keep it separate from birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions.
Make Meaningful Amends
You don’t have to be great with words to apologize effectively. Saying “I’m sorry” with heartfelt sincerity often means more to people than a paragraph or two of empty words. Many cultures, religions, support groups, and doctors encourage us to say sorry for what we’ve done wrong. Apologizing helps not only the person who receives the apology but the person who says it.
The best apologies help people forgive more easily. They also help the wrongdoer understand the pain they’ve caused, which may inspire personal growth. Making meaningful amends shouldn’t end with words. See it as a new path or way of living with one less mistake you’ll make in the future.
You can be a better and more evolved friend, colleague, partner, parent, and person.
Reaffirm boundaries, earn back trust, and examine other options. Everyone makes mistakes. Just don’t make the same ones over and over again. It takes courage to admit you’re wrong and learn from it. It also helps the person on the receiving end feel seen and validated.
Saying you’re sorry can be tough. And a lot of people have trouble knowing what to say for other situations and occasions, too. Check out our blog to find other helpful suggestions for what to say from our gifting experts. Happy healing!