Guilt Treatment A: Learn the Recipe for an Effective Apology
Most of us conceive of apologies as including three basic ingredients: (1) a statement of regret for what happened; (2) a clear "I'm sorry" statement; and (3) a request for forgiveness -all of which must be delivered with sincerity. (...) Scientists have discovered three additional components that also play a vital role in an apology's effectiveness: validating the other person's feelings, offering atonement, and acknowledging we violated expectations.
How to Offer Authentic Emotional Validation
1-Let the other person complete his or her narrative about what happened so you have all the facts.
2-Convey your understanding of what happened to this person from his or her perspective (whether you agree with that perspective or not and even if that perspective is obviously skewed).
3-Convey your understanding of how the person felt as a result of what happened (from his or her perspective).
4-Acknowledge that his or her feelings are reasonable (which, given that person's perspective, they are).
5-Convey empathy and remorse for the person's emotional state.
Although it might not always be relevant, necessary, or possible to do so, making offers to compensate or atone for our actions in some way can be extremely meaningful to the offended party, even if he or she turns down the offers we make.
Guilt Treatment B: Forgive Yourself
Guilt Treatment C: Reengage in Life