Principal April Scott believes that the most effective and powerful course of action is to apologize in person. While seemingly simple, she explains that there’s more to it than simply saying the words “I’m sorry.”
The person has to feel it.
“[It’s] the old adage that actions speak louder than words,” Scott said. “You can say you’re sorry, but if your actions don’t say you’re sorry, then the words are meaningless.”
However, Scott knows that for many people, going up to someone they feel they’ve hurt and apologizing face-to-face can be too daunting. They may feel embarrassed or worried that the person may not want to talk to them because of what they did. She suggests that in this case, they write a handwritten note to apologize, showing that they care about the issue and are putting in the time to repair it in words.
Scott says that often times, the apology not only helps the person who deserves it, but the person who is apologizing. Once someone owns up to what they did, not only do they feel like they have gained closure, but they bring closure to the person they hurt. No matter what form an apology takes, the important thing is that the person means what they say. The apology won’t change anything if it isn’t sincere.
“You have to say what you mean,” Scott said, “But then you have to show that you mean it, and those two together have to go hand in hand.”