How to Apologize

Apologizing is an important element to maintaining healthy and happy relationships. Sometimes apologizing is tricky but a sincere apology can make both parties feel better and help you to move on to happier times.  Why is apologizing so challenging for some people? Apologizing makes you very vulnerable and opens you up to criticism, blame, and attacks. When you apologize, you also have to recognize your flaws and shortcomings and this does not feel so good.  It takes a lot of courage and integrity to apologize.  No one likes to work with, be friends with, or date someone who cannot admit when they mess up or take responsibility for their mistakes.

Photo by Liza Summer on

Here is a guide to delivering a sincere apology:

  • Ask for permission or state that you would like the opportunity to apologize
  • Take responsibility for your behaviors; clearly state what you did or said that was wrong
  • Acknowledge that  you hurt the other person
  • Discuss appropriate behaviors and boundaries in your relationship
  • Express regret and remorse
  • Express that you will try to avoid making the same mistake again
  • Don’t make promises about your behavior that you cannot keep
  • Ask for forgiveness
  • Reflect on your behavior, the apology, and how you want to move forward
  • Let it go; after you apologize sincerely once, it is okay to move on and put your mistake behind you

Think about the above list the next time it is your turn to apologize! 

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