Admitting wrongdoing can be difficult and humbling, but a
genuine apology can help you clear the air and make things right with your
loved ones. In six steps, learn how to apologize to someone.
Why Are Sincere Apologies Necessary?
When you accept full responsibility for a mistake and offer
a genuine apology, you show the hurt person that you care about their feelings
and want to learn from your error. When you express remorse with a genuine
apology, you begin the process of rebuilding trust without making excuses for
your behavior. Apologies that are effective promote mental health and improve
relationships with partners, friends, family members, and coworkers.
When Is the Appropriate Time for an Apology?
If you suspect you have offended someone's feelings, express
your regret with a heartfelt apology as soon as possible to clear the air. If
you are unsure whether you have offended a loved one, the following common
behavioral indicators usually indicate that someone is upset:
Avoiding involvement: You may have irritated someone if they
are ignoring, avoiding, or limiting interactions with you. In your quest to
apologize, avoid making assumptions or crossing their boundaries.
Changes in typical behavior: If a person is normally
friendly and welcoming but suddenly becomes cold or angry, they may be
expecting an apology.
Closed body language includes crossing their arms, avoiding
eye contact, and turning their body away from you. Learn to read people's body
Closed facial expressions: Uncomfortable negative or tense
facial expressions may indicate an unspoken issue.
Vocal tone: Observe changes in their vocal tone, such as
coldness, monotony, or subtle anger. When forced to respond, someone who gives
clipped, short answers may be upset.
How to Give a Sincere Apology
When you apologize properly, you will benefit from a better
relationship and trust with the other person. To make a genuine apology, follow
1. Do it in person. Make your apology in person if at all
possible. The sincerity of your words is enhanced by your body language, facial
expressions, and ability to listen to their response.
2. Be precise. Make a point of naming what you did wrong in
your apology so that the other person understands what you did. "I'm sorry
I lied to you," rather than "I'm sorry," will be more effective
3. Express your regret. An apology includes expressing
regret for your actions and wishing you hadn't made the mistake in the first
4. Keep it focused on your actions. When you apologize,
avoid mentioning any of your loved one's actions that may have contributed to
your outburst. Keep your explanation brief and only apologize for what you did.
5. Recognize their emotions. If the other person chooses to
respond by expressing how they felt about your behavior, acknowledge their
feelings without justifying or adding defensiveness to your words. Allow them
to speak uninterrupted.
6. Let go. Let go of the situation once you've apologized,
regardless of whether your loved one accepts your apology. Some people need
time to process and work through their emotions, so if they don't forgive you
right away, respect their decision, try not to take it personally, and be