Apologizing is an art form. It can be very difficult for a person to say there sorry. The act of having to apologize can be very embarrassing for the individual. Many are ashamed of their action and really don’t know what to say to make things better. In most cases, people are sorry for their actions, the problem is that they don’t know how to express those feelings and tell the other person how sorry they are. Learning how to apologize is important simply for the fact that it removes the weight of guilt that can overwhelm a person and prevent them from becoming depressed. How Do You Say Sorry if You have been a bully?
Why Bullies Don’t Apologize
Anger, pride, stubbornness, humiliation and embarrassment are a few reasons why bullies avoid their victims. They know that if they run into the person they mistreated, they will be, more than likely, forced to apologize for their actions whether they meant to do them or not. Bullies will often go to great lengths to avoid being caught. Part of this can be because of embarrassment, but much of it revolves around the fact that they simply do not want to be held accountable for their actions. If they are caught, they must take responsibility and that means apologizing to the victim.
Some bullies believe that if they are forced to apologize it will make them less of a man or weak in the eyes of their friends. Maintaining their hard core image would be difficult if they apologized to every person they intentionally tried to harm. Some bullies would readily apologize if they knew it would not have a negative impact on their image. When confronted by teachers or the authorities, the bully may say they are sorry but shrug it off to their friends as if it was something they were forced to do, but didn’t really mean.
How to Apologize
How do you say sorry? The easiest way to say your sorry is also the most difficult. Simply put, just walk up to the victim and say, “I’m sorry.” Unfortunately, those two small words can be the most difficult words ever spoken.
Learning how to say your sorry is important no matter what the situation. In bullying cases especially, getting the bully to apologize offers the victim some level of validation and helps them move past the traumatic event. Counselors may offer support, but they cannot lessen the trauma or hurt the victim experienced at the hands of the bully.
Having the bully meet with the victim and apologize allows the victim to move forward. Once the apology is received, the victim can begin the healing process. Healing is a slow process especially if the victim was repeatedly traumatized or the incident involved a physical injury. The apology will not take away the event or lessen the scars, but it can help the victim put things in perspective and help them move forward with their lives.
Getting Bullies to Apologize
Getting a bully to apologize can be difficult. Bullies act the way they do because they have others believing they are “tough” or in control. Many feel that apologizing is beneath them and will do anything to avoid having to say they are sorry. A true bully has no regrets concerning their actions and will defend what they have done.
In some cases, a person may bully someone else out of anger or frustration and then later, regret their actions. When this occurs, they are often so embarrassed and ashamed of what they have done that they avoid apologizing. Encouraging them to say they are sorry for the indiscretion serves two purposes. It allows the victim to forgive the person who bullied them and possibly extend an offer of friendship. It gives the person who did the bullying the opportunity to apologize and clear the air.
One benefit of apologizing is that it allows the person to clear the air. If the event occurred because they were frustrated or overwhelmed with problems, it was more than likely unintentional. Apologizing allows them to “save face” and make amends for the suffering they inflicted on the other person. It can alleviate the guilt they carry over the situation and prevent feelings of depression.
Why Bullies Need to Learn to Apologize
Bullies need to learn to apologize for several reason. First and foremost, it is the right thing to do. Secondly, it allows them to make amends for their actions. Bullies who are intent on causing harm or hurting another will not apologize unless they are forced to. For some, inflicting pain is their sole intention and apologizing is not in their plans. When this is the case, you may need to threaten the bully with some form of punishment to force them to apologize.
Bullies often have issues that many people do not understand. They hurt others because they are hurting. They have a hard time facing the traumatic things that have turned their lives upside down. Apologizing, in some ways, is a way of making them face and accept the things that have happened to them. When this type of bully is made to apologize, several things can happen. The victim is given their chance to forgive the bully for their actions, and the bully gets the opportunity clear their conscience. When the bully is allowed to release their guilt, they take the first steps towards their own healing.
The Importance of Showing Compassion
Showing compassion is important no matter what situation you are in. As the victim, you do not know what caused the bully to do what they did. If you are the bully, it is important to understand and realize that words can leave invisible scars that far outlive physical injuries. If you are a mediator who is working with both the bully and victim, there is probably much more to the situation than you realize.
Teaching both parties the value of apologizing is important if you expect either one of them to move past the incident. When it comes to apologies, a bully may have little experience and not have any idea what to do or what to say. Helping them to work through their feelings and find the right words is not an easy task, especially if they are uncomfortable talking about their own personal problems. If you can get them to talk, finding the right words is the next task at hand.
Expressing one’s feelings vocally can be difficult for some. A counselor may be able to provide assistance in this area if the intention is to get the bully to apologize to their victim. Another issue is trying to get the bully to put emotion behind the apology so that the victim believes they are sincere. For many victims, just saying the words is enough, while others want to know the bully is truly sorry for their actions.
Bullies often have trouble showing remorse and many will say what they have to whether they mean it or not. This can be discouraging for the victim, but it may be the best they can get. Victims often go through periods of recovery where they no longer need the apology to feel better but it is nice to hear the bully say the words.