- Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
- This week, we help a student who wants to know how to repair a relationship after hurting someone’s feelings
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I accidentally hurt my friend’s feelings, and now he hates me. I didn’t mean to hurt him, and I feel really bad about it. What should I do to repair our friendship?
It’s a bit difficult to give advice when we don’t know what set off the argument, but we will assume it was something such as making a joke at their expense or teasing them, not something super serious.
When we hurt our friends’ feelings, intentionally or not, it’s important to apologise to show we treasure the relationship. Misunderstandings can result in arguments, create an emotional distance, or even lead to friendship break-ups. However, if we can handle these issues in a positive and respectful way, it provides an opportunity for growth and can help strengthen the bond between two people.
Here are a few things you can do:
– Listen empathetically until your friend feels heard, and try to see things from their point of view.
– Find out exactly what went wrong and how it made your friend feel. You can explain why you did what you did, but don’t try to excuse your actions.
– Take responsibility for the negative outcome of your behaviour by giving a genuine, specific apology, so your friend knows you understand exactly what hurt them and that you’re owning up to it.
– Focus on what you can do to solve the problem, and how you can avoid making the same mistake again.
Keep in mind that your friend may not be ready to repair things just yet, and they might need some time and space to process their feelings. Be respectful and don’t push them. Hopefully, they will come around when they’re ready.
You’ve got this, Friend of a friend
The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.