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How to Make an Adept, Sincere Apology

Let’s face it — most of us aren’t going to go very far in life without having to make a few apologies along the way. While some neanderthals may see an apology as a sign of weakness, most people recognize that saying, “I’m sorry” is a simple way to smooth over a difficult situation when you were in the wrong (and it even works when you may be right, but just want to move on in your relationship with the other person).

Apologies are one of those things we’re rarely formally taught how to do well. We often just muddle through them, mimicking the behaviors we’ve seen in others, and feeling like we just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. However, taking a few moments to really understand the value of a sincere apology can make your apologizing far more effective and more likely to accepted.

Here’s how to make an adept, sincere apology.

8 Comments to
How to Make an Adept, Sincere Apology

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  1. I is my opinion that Learning to forgive is also a necessary component. Here is the most important thing to consider about the process of dealing with people who have hurt us in the past, but who are not hurting us now: forgiveness can be very good for us. In the last 20 years, scientists have discovered how much forgiveness can lead to emotional and physical healing and wholeness. In your situation, it may allow you to significantly decrease the emotional background noise in your life. Resentment eats up a lot of energy, even when it is well locked-up.

    • My story kinda goes bk to when I was 5. I was the 5th child & only girl..I had 4 older brothers .
      Having 1 brother 3 yrs older He wanted too … Lets just say explore:(..This was often and lasted more than 3 yrs!
      My mom finds this out and has a nervous breakdown. I am dragged down the stairs by my hair . My Aunt was there & called 911` I watched her taken away in a straight jacket.. It was 1 of many to follow sad days.. I was almost 9 then .
      I remember getting taken in by my Aunt & then visiting my moms cousin & sleeping in the bath tub because I wet the bed ..

      I have to make this story short but am a mom of a 22 yr old who chooses not to listen to my apologies & i feel there is really nothing

      • Let me also say tho that I chose to make alot of mistakes in my Life ..I WAS OR AM PERFECT .. But after over 5 yrs of trying to right my wrongs He still can’t accept & move on ..

      • Let me also say tho that I chose to make alot of mistakes in my Life ..I WAS OR AM PERFECT .. But after over 5 yrs of trying to right my wrongs He still can’t accept & move on ..
        I am almost 50 & the sad thing is when I was a child I wanted to die by that age ..

  2. Forgiveness can be very nice for the transgressor too, whether they deserve it or not.

    Good round up on how to apologise. A little sincerity goes a long way.

  3. I remember as a small child how my parents would say and do things that were so hurtful. That small mind tries to make sense of the world…and the actions of others. I know as a young person I grew up with a sense that I was to blame for their actions.

    When I became a parent, I was determined to not make the same mistakes. But as is true for all of us, no one is perfect. And so like my parents I would raise my voice or say hurtful things.

    In these situations, once I had cooled down, I realized that I had done more harm than good through my behavior. Usually there was some legitimate aspect in my response to some indiscretion on their part. Unfortunately once the fuse was lit…the bomb had a way of exploding.

    Usually within an hour or so…I knew I had to set things straight. So the routine was to sit them on my lap when they were small…and as they got older…to sit close by, and begin a process of apology.

    I would always confess that I had over-reacted. And I would ask if they would forgive me. And once that was done we talked in a more calm manner about the perceived indiscretion on their part. Sometimes I just had displaced anger. But when they were wrong, we talked about it.

    These sessions always ended with hugs and I love you. Fortunately, these episodes are less often than when they were younger. Perhaps I’ve improved with age. Perhaps they know what sets me off these days.

    But to this day…even though my four kids are 15, 16, 18 and 20…If I need to apologize, I do. I think I’m a better person because of it. I never want my own kids to get things confused in their own heads like I did as a small child. And from my estimation we have good healthy relationships…not perfect…but healthy.

    Thank you Dr. Grohol

    Mark Lemar

  4. My partner never accepts my apologies. No matter how sincere I feel, the feedback I always get from her is that my voice is too “matter of fact” or “emotionless” and it does not come across as sincere. I don’t know what to do.

  5. In emphasizing sincerity, the author makes the same mistake that many unsuccessful apologizers do: placing too much emphasis on the feelings of the
    “transgressor,” and not enough on showing empathy for the crummy experience of the “victim.”

    “Don’t blame me, see how sincere I am, see how much I am suffering now, I may even be suffering more over my very excusable transgression than you could have suffered from it” is not the most welcome message when someone has really screwed up. In short it is quite possible to be really sincere, as well as really self-absorbed and annoying.

    By contrast it is almost impossible to express empathy and remorse for causing another person’s embarrassment, inconvenience, grievous loss or just wounded feelings and NOT seem sincere.

    Sincerity is overrated in the article, as in modern life, and the art of the apology is the poorer for it.



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