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from Shirley

The Top 10 Ways To Apologize
To Someone You Have Hurt or Offended

We all have times in our lives when we have said or done something we know has hurt or offended either a business aquaintance, personal friend, "significant other" or even a stranger. There are many ways to apologize. The following run the gamut, and can prove useful, depending on the person, the situation, and how both of you feel about what you did or said.

1. "Reach Out And Touch Someone"

The telephone, while many times not the most personal or direct way of apologizing, sometimes is the best option. If you are in a different city, or if you feel the hurt or offense resulting from what you did or said is not great, a sincere telephone apology is acceptable and usually works.

It is also one way to apologize if you feel there is the slightest chance of any violence or "abusive" retorts to your attempt at apologizing. Sometimes people are not willing, wanting nor ready to hear an apology. In those cases, some "distance" is often prudent and understandable.

2. The Apologetic Letter

Writing a letter...a love letter, a friendship letter, or a letter expressing apologetic feelings, can often be as powerful and have as great an impact as saying something to someone in person. A letter is especially appropriate and best if you are very nervous, have difficulty facing the person, or do not live near them.

It is wise to compose your letter, do a couple of rereads so the "language" and wording is exactly what you want to convey, then let it sit overnight. The next day, reread the letter, and see if it still says what you want, or if it needs a final drafting. A fresh mind and a fresh emotional state often can make what we say and the way we SAY it very different!

Always remember: Once you have written something on paper and signed your name to it, there is a chance it will be around a LONG time. Make sure you can handle the consequences should it be read by others, or by family members in years to come.

3. The E-Mail/Voicemail Method

Also known as the more "impersonal" method by many. Modern technology has unfortunately helped us in many ways and hindered our communication skills in others. If you cannot reach the person directly by phone or mail, or if for some reason you simply do not want to do it that way, this is an alternative.

As with a letter, email and taped messages can come back to "bite you" if the person on the receiving end keeps them and decides to let others in on their content. If you are truly sincere in your tone and words, you have nothing to fear or worry about. If you do it by voicemail, it is best to WRITE OUT on paper what you want to say, and keep it to 30 seconds, or a minute.

Many voice mails can go much longer, but some have 30-60 second maximums. You can always call right back and record the rest of your message, but this is where being succinct and friendly in tone is of great importance if you want your message to be well taken.

4. Sending A Card And/Or Gift

The old "flowers, card, candy, fruitcake, necklace, or other material token of your apology" approach. Cards can be very nice. There are some VERY nice modern cards now for all occassions...some have photos or a verse on the front, and are blank inside for your HAND WRITTEN personalized note (strongly suggested in all but minor cases).

The addition of a gift is optional and situational. If it is a "significant other"/loved one, it is a nice added touch, but it must be something you KNOW they like! No cheap candy or $5 teddy bear! True, it is the thought that counts, but when it is a loved one involved, think abit bigger than usual, and make it special.

If it is a business associate or friend, a gift is really optional and probably overkill. Taking them to dinner or lunch would be a better idea if possible.

5. The Face-To-Face, In-Person Apology.

This is the killer, "flop sweat," "mind is willing but the flesh is weak" real McCoy type of "tete a tete" apology that many do not like because they must see the other person's expressions, show theirs, and probably hear a verbal reply. Well... .sometimes it is humbling, as well as a great character builder to just face the music (or in this case, the person) and do what you feel in your heart and mind and soul needs to be done.

You will be respected by the person you are addressing as well as by yourself more if you are able and willing to make your apology in this manner. Smiles, laughter, hugs, handshakes, and other displays of appreciation and affection are added benfits for both parties that are all possible when apologizing this way!

6. Apologizing Through An "Intermediary."

A.K.A. "The Cyrano de Bergerac" or "Miles Standish" method. This is usually not recommended, as most people would see it as being highly impersonal to have an apology delivered to them via a "proxy or "stand-in."

Sometimes in RARE instances if you feel it is vital to apologize, yet cannot physically or emotionally do it any other way, this is better than nothing. Don't expect it to have nearly the positive impact as any of the other methods mentioned here however.

7. By "Righting" The Wrong If Possible.

Burn a coffee table with a misplaced stogie? Lose a tool or other borrowed item from a friend or neighbor but you are too embarrassed to fess up? Two things are necesary here.

First you accept and admit full responsibility for the damages done. Secondly, you offer to either buy the person a replacement, or give them whatever the replacement value of the damaged or lost or broken item is.

Repairing or replacing hurt feelings or unkind words is not as easy, and you can also ask if there is anything you can do to "make it up" to the person. Sometimes, an apology in combination with an act or deed is a good way to "mend fences."

8. By "Righting" The Wrong If Possible.

This takes more guts than most of the other ways to apologize.

Sometimes, depending on what you did and what you are apologizing for, you might find it appropriate to use a public forum or medium such as a newspaper, billboard, small dinner gathering or party, etc., where you make your apology not only to the person you harmed, but also to your work colleagues, friends, and even total strangers!

It is more dramatic, and it also works with the right situation, and gives you some good experience in public exposure or public speaking. Done with pinache, it is a tough act to follow.

9. By Actions/Deeds Alone.

Doing a real kindness for the person to whom you wish to note and accept your apology is another technique.

This could range from giving contact names and numbers to a business associate with whom you have somehow been less than fair, to showing up with flowers, balloons, a new car, a clown suit, or whatever is appropriate and you feel will get the point across, at the person's place of work or at their residence.

Please keep it within reason so you do not add public embarrassment to the original offense! Think it over, and use common sense in what you do. Sometimes, actions can speak louder than words. Also saying you are sorry at some point is strongly advised as well!

10. The Combination Approach For Special People Or Situations.

If you feel you have done something egregiously awful to a close friend or relative or business associate, sometimes a combination of verbal, written and actions/gifts is not too much. Use your judgment. Again, well spoken sincere words mean the most to most people.

For more impact and to make sure your feelings and desire to make amends are truly appreciated and felt, this "shotgun" approach with various displays of remorse and humility, is either going to work or you have simply hurt the person too deeply that they are not willing nor perhaps ready to accept even a grandiose show of how sorry you are.

If this is the case, leave things alone for awhile. Sometimes people need time to forgive. Some people unfortunately NEVER forgive us, no matter what we say or do. If that is your situation, tell yourself you did your best, "let it go," and get on with life. You took full responsibility and did what you could to make things right. That is all one can *reasonably* expect.

from Shirley

The Top 10 Easy Ways
To Reduce Your Stress Level Daily
When You Only Have 10 Minutes!

Too much stress can KILL or cause disease or emotional ills. This list will tell you what you can do if you only have 10 minutes to reduce your stress and be more productive and more healthy. It is geared for office and/or at home

1. At The Office - Find Some Peace & Quiet!

Go to a quiet area (a bathroom works, as does a basement or storage/lounge area that is infrequently used). Sit quietly (in a stall works!) and think of your favorite movie, TV show, person, or travel place. Close your eyes if alone. Just "shifting" to a very positive thought-image for ten minutes can relax you profoundly.

2. At Home - Take Your Own Quiet "Timeout."

Find the most quiet comfortable area and lie down or recline. Close your eyes and listen to relaxing music & think only of things you LOVE to do, see, or experience. Allow the phone to ring or *take it off the hook!* Serious calls will always be returned, or you may choose to have voicemail or your answering machine turned on. Savor the moments and the images. Allow your muscles to relax and your eyes to rest.

3. At Home, After A Stressful Day At Work.

Take a very warm shower or bath and let the water relax your muscles. Scent the bath water if you wish. If possible, have some relaxing music in the room. Dim the lights. Light a scented candle if you wish. Let the stress dissolve into the water and be washed away by it. Imagine you are a part of the water itself. Just allow your mind & body to go "limp."

4. Meditate or Pray.

Learning how to calm the mind and body through meditation or self-relaxation or prayer is very helpful. Once learned, it can be used virtually anywhere and at any time. If you need instruction, buy a book or tape at your local bookstore on meditation, self-relaxation, etc. Keep a small book of positive affirmations of prayers near you (also sold in all major bookstores) to look at, repeat silently, or upon which to reflect.

5. Exercise (Within Reason!)

Okay, the nasty "E" word! Seriously, 10 minutes of simple walking briskly, riding a stationary bike, Yoga, or other aerobic activity will help rid your body of alot of accumulated adrenaline-like "stress related" chemicals. You will find yourself both more relaxed and more alert after this seemingly moderate amount of activity.

6. "Hit The Road!"

If possible, take a 10-minute spin in your car in as quiet and uncongested a neighborhood as possible. If the weather is good, roll down the window and breathe in the fresh air, even if it is a bit cool out! Relax to the radio music, look at the landscape, the people walking, and even the clouds in the sky (keep your eyes on the road of course!). If you feel like it, sing along with the music! It's *your* 10 minutes!

7. Take A "Chill Out" Break; Simple, And It Works!

Go to the bathroom at your home, office, or wherever you wish to take this time out. Run cold water and get a wash cloth or towels and soak them in it. Apply the cool compress to your eyes, forehead, face, and neck areas. Hold the cloth in each area several seconds, eyes closed. If you can sit down, all the better. Reapply several times. Concentrate on the soothing effects and don't think of business or what time it is. You'll emerge more relaxed and refreshed than you might imagine!

8. Call Someone Just To Chat.

Call a parent, a spouse, a friend. Make sure when you call they have 10 minutes to talk, and tell them you are calling to *relax* and take your mind off your day. If they are not in a positive mood, say goodbye as soon as you can, and try someone else.

The point is, the chat needs to be with someone who is happy to hear from you, who will not "dump" THEIR stress on you, and who you really like. Make sure to annouce up front that it is a "de-stress" call for you, but do not "dump" on *them* either. Tell jokes, talk about anything that is fun, relaxing, or interesting.

9. Get A Healthy Snack And Eat It ALONE.

Stress depletes us of vitamins, minerals, blood sugar and calories. A healthy snack like a piece of fruit, a granola bar, a glass of juice or skim milk can revive us. If eaten or drunk slowly in a quiet atmosphere (as quiet as you can find) it can recharge our emotional and physical batteries.

Avoid anything with caffeine or nicotine or alcohol in it! The "sense" of relaxation those chemicals gives is either purely psychological, or temporary, and we will end up more tense later, creating *more* stress for us rather than less.

10. At Your Home Or Work Computer.

If you are not "networked" on your computer, and/or you have your own PC, take 10 minutes out to play a game of pinball, Solitaire, Textris (all or some come with Windows95) or any other game which came preloaded if your computer is fairly new, or which you can add for little cost.

Make sure the games are quiet, nonviolent and don't last an hour. Do NOT worry about winning or even finishing the game if it runs over your time frame. The point is to distract and have fun. Just by *playing* you are "winning." :)