In trying to restore a friendship by apologizing, I think I made the situation even worse by making too big of a deal about my mistake. No matter how hard I tried to explain the situation from my point of view, I didn’t come away with the feeling that my saying, “I’m sorry,” was enough to mend fences. How do you convince someone that you are really sorry?
–Irene, Portland, OR
- The most authentic apologies are short.
- Don't include an explanation in your apology, because it undoes the apology.
- Never ask for forgiveness, the offended may accept the apology but probably won't forget the wrongdoing.
- Never say, "I'm sorry you feel that way," because it moves the focus away from the person apologizing by yo-yo-ing "I'm sorry" into "I'm not really feeling all that sorry."
- Listen to the offended person and don't "interrupt, argue, refute, or correct facts, or bring up your own criticisms and complaints," says Dr. Lerner.
- Apologize for the offense, no matter how small your part may have been.