How to Make the Perfect Apology

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate


“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” ~Buddha

1. Express your remorse
Anytime I have ever received an apology, it has always helped to know the other person felt remorse about what happened. We intuitively scan the apologizer, looking for sincerity. If we believe they are sincere, we are more likely to forgive. But, we often will never forget.

2. Explain what happened
It helps to know what exactly went wrong. This frees us from the dungeon of over-thinking or imagining the worst possible scenario. We can easily imagine scenarios far worse than what actually might have happened. By having a clear explanation, we are more likely to make peace with the occurrence.

3. Take responsibility
When a person acknowledges personal responsibility, it adds to their credibility and simply makes us feel better. Since they are taking ownership of their actions,  we can have a little more confidence they will not repeat the mistake. And, isn’t it maddening to hear someone inappropriately deflect responsibility?

4. Declare your regret
A declaration of repentance often involves a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live more responsibly. It might be difficult to accept their declaration. Remember, forgiveness is an opportunity to let go of past missteps and free ourselves from anger, resentment or sadness.

5. Make amends 
When a person goes out of their way to correct a mistake, it is definitely refreshing. Actions will always speak louder than words. It is especially important to let them make the correction. You will feel better if they do. It is your chance to see if they will follow through. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Well done is better than well said.”

6. Ask for forgiveness
Anytime someone asks for forgiveness, hopefully they have addressed at least some of the previous steps. Most people tend to request forgiveness first. As you can imagine by now, there are steps far more important.


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60 responses to How to Make the Perfect Apology

  1. Deb says:

    And if you could perfect that face in the picture, you’re sure to be forgiven!! All great points!! Three and five are my favorites. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In six simple points you have taught a lesson for our lives! It was really amazing to read your words. Thanks a lot for sharing this one! Short, simple and meaningful.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. vshakvamantz says:

    Looking at this post and the steps make me more aware of just how insincere the one I received is. That, and how much more I deserved. I don’t claim to crawl perfectly or never screw up, but I find comfort in knowing that according to this, I try my best to smooth things over and make sure neither I nor the person I wronged leave unsatisfied. Great to see!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Gama says:

    Good post, subheading helps a lot to the people to understand clearly. Great idea, good way of conveying a message👌👍👍👍

    Liked by 2 people

  5. bhaatdal says:

    Wow !! Great one ., actually another great one .. I am thinking of taking out a print and paste it on the wall of our office , so that whoever commits mistake will learn to apologise and Boss will be happy .. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  6. apriltulip says:

    Such a great post!
    Any suggestions for how to deal with the ‘remorseless’?
    Perhaps a future post re: knowing when it’s time to walk away, or forgiveness vs. reconciliation?

    Like

  7. James L says:

    I would also like to add to the list – ‘give an offhand complement’ as for example I was having to apologies to someone at work because our team had not dealt with a problem they had on time. So I just dropped in how ‘efficiently they had got through the task – which had caught us off guard’ – as a result they actually weren’t bothered about our failure and said ‘my comment had made their day’

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sargondorsai says:

    Apologizing is one of the hardest things to do and yet one of the most important. Being truly apologetic means we promise to make ourselves better and to not make the same mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I find it interesting that when a person sincerely apologizes, within myself, I feel the transgression wash away. Correctly observed that it is not forgotten; but it morphs into something I now know of them – like a precious tidbit that allows me to know, relate and understand them with compassion and the sincerity they offered in their apology. However, a sidestepped apology (where responsibility is not taken, and yet another correct observation: it is maddening!) can actually create (again I’m being specific about myself) what feels like a file in my brain where I remember and not in a righteous, compassionate way…but rather, in a “now I have to watch out for myself around this person” kind of way.
    Sincerity is key. Being genuine is of utmost importance; it’s freeing in so many ways.
    Presently I’m working on “letting it go” because much like the filing cabinets that grace multiple offices – mental ones overflow too and create inner havoc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nicolle says:

      I agree with all the points above! I think this happens a lot in the workplace, where a problem happens (server goes down and causes loss of revenue, etc) and when the bosses’ first reaction is to look for someone to blame; people tend to be defensive rather than apologetic.

      I, too, am working on letting go, but my problem is more on blaming myself rather than remembering someone did something wrong. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for this post, not my strong point especially with my daughter….. who is 27. she is always searching in my face for what i don’t know… but for some reason i make her angry all the time….. I have to memorize the 6 tips above, because i love her so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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