south easterMy bad! How to say youre sorry

The mediators job, he says, is to teach people to communicate. Wilkins says he finds the common ground &8212; often just one point that both parties agree on &8212; and works from there to resolve the argument even if the relationship is past saving.

Love Story author Erich Segal wrote Love means never having to say youre sorry. Not only is that untrue, apologizing is so prevalent that websites like www.perfectapology.com tell you how to do it.

1. Fully acknowledge what you did and that you understand why it hurt the other person.

If a relationship is to survive, Vigliotti says, the person wronged has to forgive. Not forgiving is like repeatedly picking the scab off a wound: It will never heal.

Aaron says a difficult but necessary act for the person apologizing is to avoid defensiveness. Defensiveness means a person is not ready to feel the pain that they did to someone else, he says.

But what if you are the one who is behaving badly?

Basketball great LeBron James apologized for the self-serving show he staged when he unceremoniously dumped Cleveland 10 months ago to play for the Miami Heat. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apologized for his attack on the Medicare overhaul plan of fellow Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

On the home front, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized for the pain he caused his wife of 25 years, Maria Kennedy Shriver, and their four children by thering a child 10 years ago with his housekeeper.

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Wilkins remembers a case where he helped a 15-year-old and his parents learn to get along well enough to live as a mily. Saying Im sorry can be said in many ways &8212; things like I now understand, I didnt realize that.

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Sometimes, the goal is not healing but tolerance.

When someone does something wrong, therapists are talking about healing. Im talking about how to solve the problem so they dont get involved with some legal issue.

A complete apology includes behavior change. You should say these are the steps

I am going to take to address my insensitivity, my character flaw, my lack of impulse control, my neglect, laziness, whatever.

Woods drawn-out debacle was exactly what Regans Boston-based firm &8212; which represents the Boston Celtics, Dunkin Donuts and scores of others &8212; advises against. Regan says its sometimes good for a celebrity to tell his or her story to one reporter so it will get out without the barrage of questions in a press conference.

Whats really important is to understand it might take a while for that person (you wronged) to come around and trust you again. You need to make it clear that you understand and are willing to wait, says Elizabeth Vigliotti, a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in South Yarmouth.

6. Wait patiently. Forgiveness, like Rome, is not built in a day.

This latest slate of apologies must have golfer Tiger Woods breathing a sigh of relief.

The key is you move on after the apology, Regan says. There are no more questions and then the American public will move on to the next person whos behaving badly.

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4. Apologize and promise not to repeat the action.

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Out of the spotlight, where most of the world lives, you cant always move on and expect someone else to take your place on the walk of shame. Spouses, children, parents and colleagues tend to have a longer memory than the American public.

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3. Expect the person you hurt to revisit, more than once, details of what you did.

Attorney Russell N. Wilkins, co-founder and panelist with Southeastern Mediation and Arbitration Inc., handles mostly domestic cases &8212; including divorce, custody and property settlements &8212; for his two-year-old firm.

I worked with four brothers fighting over an estate for six years. No one said they were sorry, but all came to a center ground realizing they could better use their energy.

Americans have a big hunger for three things: beautiful women, athletes and public apologies made by personalities. They love it and then they move on to the next person, says George Regan, founder and CEO of Regan Communications Group. Its filling a south eastern health trustdemand. Public officials who cannot bring themselves to apologize really pay the price.

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Behavior plays a key role in the apology, says Andrew Aaron, a New Bedford-based licensed independent clinical social worker who does marriage counseling and therapy, as well as writing a column for The Standard Times.

5. Outline specific steps you will take to ensure you dont repeat the mistake.

south easterMy bad! How to sasouth easterMy bad! How to say youre sorryy youre sorry,Closer to home, licensed counselors Elizabeth Vigliotti and Andrew Aaron offer this advice on giving an apology that works.

2. Resist the temptation to defend yourself.

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Woods was dogged for weeks in 2009 after he refused comment on reports of his serial infidelity, offered a stilted apology, then was the subject of a Nike commercial that used chastising audio clips of his dead dad in 60 of the creepiest seconds on TV.

This month, everyone is sorry.

Vigliotti says she is appalled by the devastation Schwarzenegger has wreaked on two milies. She dislikes public apologies that cater to the public and not the person who was hurt. She says she also doesnt understand apologies that involve gifts (basketball player Kobe Bryant bought his wife a $4 million rare purple diamond ring after he was accused of extramarital ) because its like bribing a child for good behavior.

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