Dear Writers, I may have unintentionally hurt my friend. How should I approach them and make sure this doesn’t happen again?
Sincerely, Worried Friend
Hey reader, the first step to solving this problem is to not beat yourself up about it, accidents happen all the time. It's normal to accidentally say or do something you didn’t mean to. However, you should still take a moment and consider their perspective. Doing this will allow you to understand what you did wrong and (hopefully) avoid unintentionally hurting someone else the same way.
Next, you should talk to your friend as soon as possible to prevent further misunderstanding. Now, doing this can be scary and difficult, but it's a lot better than allowing them to think you intentionally hurt them. The longer you wait to talk to them, the more this misunderstanding could harm your relationship. To approach them and apologize, try to find somewhere where you can be alone to talk to them. Then, explain your side of the story, the misunderstanding, and apologize. Make sure to allow the other person space to speak so they can express their feelings.
To ensure that this situation does not happen again, I would recommend thinking before you speak. I am not suggesting that you have all of your future conservations mapped out, but if you feel like something may even have a 1% chance of coming off negatively, you should think twice about saying it. You could try rewording what you intend to say so misunderstandings are less likely. In the end, it all depends on what you are trying to say. If your statement is not necessary and can come off as rude, it may be better to not say it; this same principle can be applied to actions as well. Some good advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Another tip I would recommend is to always try to understand the conversations you have with friends. Communicate effectively. Make sure you and your friends both understand what the other person is saying before you react to them. Simple statements like “So, what you’re saying is …” can go a long way; explaining what you think the person meant paves the way for your friend to either acknowledge that you understood them or correct you. This also prevents future arguments from arising based on someone misunderstanding.