Apologizing can be a difficult thing to do. Admitting you are wrong is only one step to saying you are sorry. Follow these steps and you can say I’m sorry to whomever you owe an apology.
- Know what you’re apologizing for. You cannot apologize in general for whatever transgression someone feels you may have committed. Instead you should start by knowing what it is you did that requires an apology. Sometimes in relationships it seems easier to just apologize to end the argument but this never works for the long term. If you don’t know why you should apologize, swallow that bit of pride hanging in the back of your throat and ask.
- Offer an explanation, not excuses. It is often tempting to make an excuse for why you behaved badly. Maybe you were having a bad day or you were distracted at work. Excuses don’t matter. You can explain without making excuses.
- Admit what you did wrong. For your apology to be genuine you have to admit what you did and that it was wrong.
- Take responsibility. Accept responsibility by making it clear that excuses don’t matter. You must admit that you know what you did, that it was wrong and that you are at fault for your bad behavior.
- Say the words. Don’t think that an apology is over just because you admitted you were wrong. You have to take the extra step and actually say the words, “I’m sorry.” Make sure you mean the words when you say them. Say them aloud to the person who needs to hear the words.
- Agree not to repeat the transgression. Whatever you did, you must realize that what you did hurt someone else and if you do it again, it will likely have the same result. If you are truly sorry for your behavior then you should agree and promise not to do it again.
- Ask for forgiveness. Remember that just because you offer an apology does not mean that the other person has to accept it. Don’t just assume you are forgiven because you said I’m sorry. Take the time and ask for forgiveness. Give them time to decide whether to forgive you or not. Then accept their response, whether they forgive you or not. All you can do is ask; you cannot make someone forgive you.
Say I’m sorry when you know you have done something wrong or that hurt someone. Avoid repeating the pain and anger by being honest and upfront.