Not all apologies are created equal! Sometimes a simple "ooops, sorry" will suffice while other times you might need to give your apology more thought and write it out in a letter. The nature of your apology will depend on your particular gaffe and the type of friendship you have, but here are some guidelines to help you out.
Apology in the Moment
A quick apology given immediately after an incident will probably be the most common you experience in a friendship. To give an apology in the moment, recognize that you just did something to hurt, offend, or upset your friend, and give your pal eye contact. Say, "I'm sorry" and add to that whatever it was you did, such as:
- "I'm so sorry I was late."
- "I'm sorry I just brought up that subject. I know you don't like it."
- "Ack! Your favorite antique teacup… I just broke it. I'm so sorry."
Minor infractions happen all the time in a friendship, because after all, we're human! An apology in the moment usually ends the issue on the spot, but if you did something that really bothers your friend, you may have to follow it up with more communication.
Apology Combined With Discussion
Sometimes an apology can start out simply when we think our mistake was minor. However, you may not realize how big of a situation you just created. In that case, you may need to take your friend aside in a private place that will allow them the opportunity to talk about their hurt.
Often, this type of apology is as much about your friend venting their side of things as it is you saying you're sorry. Your friend may feel misunderstood because you hurt their feelings, so by talking it out you'll probably end up with a deeper understanding of what makes your friend tick. However, sometimes your pal may not be willing to make up even after your apology. If this is the case, you should follow up with a written note.
Hand Written Apology
There are a couple things that a written apology does. First, it provides a heartfelt statement that you value your friend and want your relationship to continue. After all, how often do we get handwritten notes in the mail today? Sending a written apology makes it stand out, and (unlike an email), shows your friend that you went the extra mile.
It'd be great if both people in a friendship would get over things at the same time, but sometimes your friend will take longer to move from a major disagreement. If that's the case, a handwritten note will go far in helping your friend forgive and forget.