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Anatomy of a proper apology

by Joyce Remo

ALEX Gonzaga, who recently received intense criticisms from netizens for inappropriate behavior towards a server during her birthday celebration, has since apologized through her social media accounts.

But not all were satisfied with her words of remorse, with many netizens finding it lacking. 

What Gonzaga said

In a tweet that was also shared on Facebook and Instagram, Gonzaga wrote, “I am truly sorry, Kuya Allan.” She then proceeded to offer a slightly longer message to her family to whom she apologized for causing “pain and embarrassment.”

Gonzaga posted her statement hours after the waiter, Allan Crisostomo, wrote his own statement about the reconciliation that transpired between the two of them.

In a signed handwritten letter released by Crisostomo’s employer, he said that Gonzaga already apologized to him and that they had resolved the issue.

“Last January 17, 2023 around 6:30 PM nasa work ako. Pumunta si Ma’am Alex kung saan ako nagwo-work,” Crisostomo wrote. “Then nag-apologize and nag-sorry siya sa akin tapos kaunting kwentuhan at sinabi ko sa kanya na ok na yung nangyari. Ok na po kami.”

The online community seemed unimpressed and unconvinced about the sincerity of Gonzaga’s statement.

While some called her out for using God to justify her behavior, others slammed the 35-year-old actress and TV host for only learning about “kindness, humility, and better judgment” at her age.

Other netizens believed that the letter from Crisostomo was only released for damage control purposes. Others wondered why he had to write it in the first place.

A crash course on the proper apology 

Saying you’re sorry about a mistake you made is more than just words. It is a manifestation of how you treat other people with respect, honesty, and humility.

According to Harvard University, people who have been hurt or humiliated often anticipate an apology from those who caused them harm to “restore dignity, trust, and a sense of justice.”

A proper and thoughtful apology helps mend relationships. On the other hand, an inadequate or insincere apology, as per Harvard, can feel “dismissive to the offended party and may heighten conflict.”

More importantly, it shouldn’t end with a mere statement saying “sorry” without even acknowledging where one went wrong. It’s mainly about restoring the respect that has been lost.

Here is a crash course on how to properly and sincerely apologize to a person we had wronged.

Several psychological scientists discovered in 2016 that the most effective apologies often include six elements including:

Expression of regret

Saying you’re sorry and you regret what had transpired, although insufficient for a complete apology, is imperative in rebuilding trust and patching relationships.

Explanation of what went wrong

The offender should be able to identify the mistake committed in order to properly apologize for the repercussions of the action. Because if the offender will continue to be oblivious of their faults, the mere essence of the apology will be undermined.

Acknowledgment of responsibility

Once the error has been identified, the offender should acknowledge the mistake, whether intentional or not, and make themselves accountable for causing harm.

Declaration of repentance

Apologies would be pointless if the mistakes are bound to be repeated. Hence, it is only appropriate for the offender to vow that they will reflect on their behavior and guarantee that the fault will not happen again.

Offer of repair

According to the Greater Good Science Center, a good apology should include explicit endeavors to repair the damage that has been done. This also includes accepting punishments as justified should one be given. 

Request for forgiveness.

Asking for forgiveness from the offended person should be done with utmost care as it could worsen the situation if not handled properly. Demanding for an immediate response is insufferable and the offender should be able to understand if the offended person would choose not to accept the apology.

The study also revealed that the most vital component involves the acknowledgment of the mistake, while asking or demanding forgiveness is the least compelling way of implying you regret your behavior.

An apology should not be treated as a box that must be checked in order to control an issue or dilemma. Such motives usually do more harm than good. 

Apologizing to someone we’ve hurt should not feel like an obligation but should be a sincere attempt to fix what has been broken.

After all, an apology without change is just pure manipulation.

Banner courtesy: Alex Gonzaga



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