Conflict Resolution: How Do You Respond to an Apology?

How do you respond to an apology? Do you further berate the person for the mistake and make them “pay?” Or do you receive the apology and extend grace to the other person?

I had a couple of responses to an apology this last week that started me thinking about this. In one situation, when I apologized, the person further berated me and seem to desire only to punish me for my mistake. In the other situation, the friend graciously said, “That’s okay, I understand. I’ve had the same problem sometimes.” The first situation made me feel sorry I apologized and made me want to pull away from the person. The second response made me more willing to learn from my mistake and restore the relationship.

Some responses to apologies alienate and some responses draw people closer. Some responses that are healthy and good are to simply say, “I accept your apology” or “I forgive you” or “I understand.” If you do identify with the person in their mistake as my friend did, it helps the person feel like they are not the only one who messes up.

If someone apologizes to you and you still feel hurt by what the person did, you might explain your hurts using the tips I shared in talking and listening together.

Apologies can be healing as long as you both know how to give and receive them.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

What do you think?  What has been your experience with apologies? Leave your response in the comments below.

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