I was fortunate this week to get to reconnect with a very close friend from my past that I had had a falling out with several years ago. In an effort to keep some sense of privacy in my life, I will not divulge details, but it is important to know that we had been extremely close and had parted unpleasantly. It always bothered me that despite the 3 plus years of friendship, the memory I had of the relationship was negative due to how things had ended between us. Then, out of the blue, in an instant my entire perception of the relationship changed after reading 2 words in a text message. Those two words, which I believe are tied for the two most powerful words in the English language, were, “I’m sorry.”
A sincere, heartfelt apology can be extremely powerful. It shows the person receiving it that you feel their hurt (empathy) and that you want them to feel better (warmth/respect). Showing them those feelings paves the way for them to process their feelings, reframe their perspective, and move forward knowing that the pain will not recur. Although it may not happen instantly, a well delivered apology (Roll Models workshops are available on giving a powerful apology) will create the emotional environment for forgiveness.
In my case, reading those two words on my iPhone instantly shifted how I felt about 3 years of friendship from sadness to closeness. It was as if the falling out we had never happened, and all of the good memories came flooding back. Think about that. A complete 180-degree turnaround in my thinking from 2 little words. If that isn’t power, I don’t know what is.