3. Address the issue head on. If you owe someone an apology, give them one. Don't make excuses for what happened; be straight about it. If you drank too much, tell them why (e.g. "I was nervous" or "I didn't realize that I hadn't eaten enough"). If you spoke too bluntly, tell them you're sorry ("I'm sorry for what I said and for hurting you"). By saying to another person that you acknowledge your part in hurting them, the resulting feeling is one of true ownership of the indiscretion. Apologies that are delivered in an indirect way (e.g. "I'm sorry you're sad") do not fully address the issue and can leave someone with the sense that you're not truly sorry for the pain. It might appear, rather, that you're just sorry you have to deal with it.
4. Don't go overboard. It's important not to fixate on the problem either. When people make an honest mistake, an apology is what's needed to address the problem -- not groveling. Make your peace and move on. If what's required is more than an honest apology, you may be looking at a deeper, more personal issue. Own the part that's yours, but don't martyr yourself to someone else's unresolved pain.
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5. Remember the golden rule for apologies: actions speak louder than words. Now that you've addressed the problem, get back to having fun. Be mindful that the next time you have an opportunity to be in a similar situation, your actions will be judged against the first one. You can successfully create a do-over by proving through your actions that things can, and will, be different.
6. Find a way to have a laugh about it. Horrible slip-ups make for exceptional "Do you remember when..." stories that are toasted at weddings, anniversaries and in quiet conversations about your life. No one is perfect. If you can find the humor in the hiccups, it's a good sign that you can weather other storms together later on.
The bottom line here is that we all deserve a chance to make up for our indiscretions. No one was born without a few golden opportunities to stick their foot in their mouth. Weather yours by knowing how to make amends when the apple cart topples. And if you need a crash course, take a few hours to watch "Groundhog Day." Surely your do-over needs can't be as bad as goodole' Phil's!
Follow Melanie Gorman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/melanie360
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