The Proper Way to Apologize

How to conduct an apology when you've messed up? Different cultures have different approaches to interpersonal communication. Here's what's considered to be better quality apologies in the US. Let's talk about it!

The Proper Way to Apologize
Don’t say, “I’m sorry this offended you”.
Instead say, “I’m sorry I was offensive.”

Don’t say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Instead say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but intent means nothing because the damage is already done.”

Don’t say, “It was just a joke.”
Instead say, “Some things should not be joked about.”

Don’t say, “I wouldn’t try to hurt anyone like that.”
Instead say, “I realize I hurt people with my words, and I’m sorry.”

Don’t say, “I‘ll remove the joke if it bothers you so much.” (if posted online)
Instead say, “Yes, I said this, and it was wrong, and now I know not to say things like this again.”

Don’t say, “Well other people weren’t bothered by it.”
Instead say, “Well some people weren’t bothered by it, but others were, and their concerns are just as valid and worthy of consideration.”

Stop accepting passive apologies that do not show the offensive party actively taking responsibility for their mistakes.


A Proper Apology Should Always Include The Following:
-->a detailed account of the situation
-->acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done
-->taking responsibility for the situation
-->recognition of your role in the event
-->a statement of regret
-->asking for forgiveness
-->a promise that it won't happen again
-->a form of restitution whenever possible


Five Ways to Say You're Sorry
1.Expressing regret -This language appeals to the emotions. It indicates that we are aware that we caused pain. “I’m sorry I spoke harshly. I know I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m so sorry for that.”

2. Accepting responsibility – This language spells out what was done wrong. “I was wrong to speak to you in that tone. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.”

3.Making restitution – This one is all about how to make up. Usually the request will fall in line with that person’s love language. “I can’t believe I reacted that way. Please tell me what I can do to make it up to you.”

4.Expressing the desire to change behavior – This one is pretty self-explanatory. “I keep losing my temper and I know that’s not right. I don’t want to repeat this. Can you think of anything that could help make sure this doesn’t happen?”

5.Requesting forgiveness – This is where forgiveness has to be requested before the apology is seen as being sincere. “I’m so sorry I spoke harshly and reacted the way I did. I know this hurts you. Will you please forgive me?”

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