The celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri marks the end of the Ramadan month. It is a holiday that symbolizes the completion of the fasting period, and is celebrated on the first day of the Islamic month of Syawal.
Hari Raya celebration is also the time to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others. It is the time for reconciliation and renewal of relationships with others. Hence, the greeting “maaf zahir dan batin” is usually used during this celebration to mean “I seek forgiveness (from you) for my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)”.
Apologizing is indeed one of the most common method for reconciling with others after conflicts that are either large or small. Apology is shown by studies to foster happiness, promotes forgiveness, and restore balance to a relationship when it is done well.
So, what constitutes a good and effective apology?
Aaron Lazare, an apology expert, provides guidelines and criteria for an effective apology. He described that there are up to four parts to the structure of an effective apology, and they are: acknowledgement of the offense; explanation; expressions of remorse, shame, and humility; and reparation.
Acknowledgement of the offense – To acknowledge the offense that has been made by the offender. The acknowledgement of the offense made has to be clear in regards to the specificity of the offense, instead of being vague (“for whatever I did”); passive (“mistakes were made”); or conditional (“if mistakes have been made”). Use the empathic “sorry”.
Explanation – Explain on how the offense is unacceptable, and show that it is unlikely to recur. A counterproductive explanation is such as when it is self-serving, defensive, or shallow.
Expression of remorse, shame, and humility – These attitudes and emotions show that the offender recognizes the suffering of the offended as the result of the offense that has been done, and it helps assure that the offense will never recur.
Reparation – To provide compensation to the damage done. The damage may be tangible or intangible, therefore compensation can be in real or symbolic way. Example of reparation for offense that causes damage or loss of tangible object would be replacement or restoration of the object. But when damage is intangible – ranging from insult to humiliation and death of loved ones – reparation would be in a form of gift, an honor, financial exchange, or acceptance of a tangible punishment from the guilty party.
Effective apology heals oneself, the offended, and the relationship between the two, and it generates forgiveness and reconciliation. Let’s renew our relationships with our family and friends in this festive season by practicing apology and forgiveness.