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Use the PANDA Method to Apologize in a Meaningful Way

Don’t BS your apologies.

So, you’ve messed up big this time. You want to and need to apologize, but you don’t want to be accused of insincerity.

By all means do not give the “I’m sorry, but…” kind of apology. The same goes for an apology that starts with “I’m sorry you…” and or “I’m sorry if/but you…”

Just don’t do it.

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This is may sound in your head like a deeply meaningful apology, but the recipient will actually hear what you are saying as a manner of diverting the blame, a justification, or rationalization. No good can actually come out of this.

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You will inevitably receive the response: “You don’t even know what you’re apologizing for” or “You aren’t sorry, you’re just sorry you got caught.”

Do yourself a favor and follow the following steps from the apology PANDA. Trust me on this, when flowers and chocolates won’t do, PANDA don’t pander.

This is how to say sorry in a meaningful way:

P: Promise It Will Never Happen Again.

In giving an authentic apology, you are saying that given the same circumstances, you would make a different, better, and wiser decision. Verbalize this and let the other person know you’ve learned from your mistakes.

A: Admit You Were at Fault.

Retrace your steps and describe exactly why what you did was wrong. A little acknowledgment and empathy can go a very long way.

N: No Excuses.

You may have fantastic extenuating circumstances ranging anywhere from you were having a bad hair day or getting told off at work. It doesn’t matter. The moment you start rationalizing, the person you are apologizing to will likely stop listening as their B.S. detector goes into overdrive.

Let the sincerity of your apology speak for itself.

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D. Describe How You Would Handle the Situation Next Time.

The best thing that can come of any experience a person has is what they have learned. If you can pinpoint just what you’ve taken from the experience, you’ll get credit for taking the opportunity to become a wiser, better person.

A. Act On Your Promise.

Words are meaningless unless they are reflected in action. Take every opportunity that you can to make restitution.

Forgiveness takes time, willingness, commitment, and patience from both parties. It may not always be granted, but if you are sincere in your expression of regret and desire to change in your apology you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to reconnect and move forwards in your relationship.

This guest article originally appeared on The Forgiveness PANDA: How to Apologize In A Meaningful Way That Actually Works.

Use the PANDA Method to Apologize in a Meaningful Way

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APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). Use the PANDA Method to Apologize in a Meaningful Way. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 2 Jun 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.