Next, you need to decide how you’re going to make amends and what you’re going to say. The conditions for making amends can take many forms. This is “how” you’re going to make amends, such as writing a letter, making a phone call, sending an email, or setting up a face-to-face meeting. When making your decision, consider what is going to be easiest for the person receiving the amends. For example, don’t insist on a personal meeting if the person lives far away or if the last interaction with the person was very unpleasant.
Also, allow the other person some privacy when making amends; for example, don’t post an apology to her Facebook page for all of her friends and family to see. Regarding the content of the amends, keep your statement simple, direct, and focused on what you did wrong. Use “I” statements, meaning, start your sentences with your actions, feelings, and responsibilities—not the other person’s.
For example, “I want to apologize because I realize I hurt you when I yelled at you last night at the restaurant. I now feel really upset and guilty about what I did and I want to take responsibility for my actions. I want to make it up to you in some way.” Even if you are going to speak directly on the phone or meet face-to-face, write down what you are going to say and practice saying it. Keep it short, direct, and focused on your own actions—not what the other person did.
In addition, consider another good piece of advice from Alcoholics Anonymous: Do your best to make amends to someone you’ve harmed unless doing so would cause that person more harm. So again, think about the other person, not just yourself. For example, if you had an affair with someone who was married, and now you want to contact that person to make amends, but you suspect that person’s spouse might find out if you do make contact, then don’t do it! Again, be respectful of the other person’s feelings and needs. So, in cases where contacting another person might cause them more harm, or in the case of not being able to contact someone because he is either dead or living somewhere unknown, what can you do?
One suggestion is to make the amends anyway, either on paper or saying the words out loud. Make your statement to the person’s spirit or memory. You might also imagine what he would say in return and further make a commitment to his spirit or memory to take healthier values-based actions in the future. Make a pledge to change your own behavior to avoid someone else suffering in similar situations. Plus, if there is still some way to fix the harm you did, even in his absence, then you should consider doing so.