Improve Relationships

Important Words that Strengthen Relationships

It’s pretty incredible to consider that a few short words can hold a world of meaning and make a huge impact on your life. ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ are some of the most significant words used to improve relationships — yet, they are often the most difficult to say.

Why is it that there are so many hang-ups and insecurities when it comes to saying these simple words? Let’s find out why so many people avoid using these terms and how detrimental that can be to relationships.

I’m Sorry

Why is it difficult for people to say ‘I’m sorry?’ The mistaken beliefs are that saying ‘I’m sorry’ will:

  • Force a person to admit that they were wrong
  • Threaten a person’s ego
  • Show weakness
  • Award the other person an apology that they don’t deserve

If you have been operating under the belief that apologizing is showing weakness, it’s time you start thinking about it a little differently. Owning up and saying ‘I’m sorry’ is one of the bravest things a person can do. It puts you in a vulnerable place, opening you up to any response — whether it be blame, criticism, or mockery — or the opposite of those things.

Apologizing is a choice to put your ego aside and focus instead on healing wounds, fixing relationships, and giving respect to the person who was hurt. An apology doesn’t necessarily mean that the apologizer needs to take all the blame — it’s acknowledgment and regret that another person was hurt.

How to Apologize

Before approaching the person you wish to apologize to, it’s important to think about exactly what you may have said or done — accidentally or otherwise — to hurt them. You must try to understand why they were hurt by what you did, and how you can fix it.

Find a quiet spot where you can talk and listen. You can say things like “I didn’t intend to hurt you,” “I’m sorry for what I said.” Allow them the space to talk freely and express how they feel.

When apologizing, erase the word “but” from your vocabulary. “I’m sorry, but…” is ineffective and can come off as insincere. Focus on the person who was hurt instead of explaining yourself.

If it isn’t possible to meet in person, take the time to write a sincere apology in a letter.

Thank You

Most people have been taught to say their pleases and thank-yous, but how many people actually mean it?

Saying thank you is not just for the benefit of the person you’re thanking, but for yourself as well. Gratefulness opens up our hearts and minds to appreciate all of the gifts that life has given us. It helps us to live in the moment instead of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. When you say a sincere thank you, it turns exchanges into a positive experience and begins a snowball effect where those around you receive positivity and express it to others as well.

Positivity breeds generosity and confidence, which build resilience and lead to a happier and healthier life.

How to Express Gratitude

In order to properly express gratefulness, you must first take the time to appreciate what it is you have been given. If it is a physical gift, that may mean to look at it, hold it, find positives about it, and not take it for granted. If someone has done a kindness for you, consider how they went out of their way to help you and the time they sacrificed for you.

Every once in a while, think about your loved ones, and consider the good things that they do on a daily basis. Thank your parents for their constant support. Thank your spouse for the small things they do to contribute to the household. Thank your children for doing their homework, completing their chores, and behaving nicely.

Just like with apologies, ‘thank you’ should be said wholeheartedly and without the word “but.”

Saying “I’m sorry” and “thank you” can sometimes be more complicated than meets the eye. Don’t let an opportunity go by without saying them, though. They both have an important and long-lasting impact on building relationships with those most dear to you.