7 tips for sincerely apologizing

For our apology to be accepted and to repair the damage caused, it must be elaborate and complete. We tell you how to achieve it.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 28 January, 2022

It is evident that no person is perfect and that all of us, on more than one occasion, have made mistakes. When our actions harm others, the bond with them is damaged and perhaps trust is broken. Reversing this situation is complicated, but asking for a sincere apology is an excellent and essential first step.

Apologizing is an art if we really want this expression of repentance to be restorative. There are those who choose to pretend that nothing ever happened, that the damage was never caused; there are others who wash their hands with a brief “sorry”. But only those who manage to craft a real and complete apology can restore the damaged relationship.

Now, while offering an apology is the most logical and appropriate path, we usually have a hard time taking this step. Perhaps because of pride, shame or not putting ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Perhaps because we believe that our words will not be well received or because we really do not think that our offense was so serious.

In any case, it is important to break down this barrier, learn to take responsibility for mistakes and know how to apologize appropriately.

How to ask for a sincere apology?

Science has proven that Not all apologies are equally effective and that the most elaborate and complete usually offer better results. Also, there are certain components that carry more weight than others.

If you want to be successful in your mission, these are some of the elements that cannot be missing from your apology.

sincere regret

First of all, you should reflect on your actions and their consequences. You have to assess the damage you have caused and what emotions you have been able to arouse in the other person.

Becoming aware of your transgression is fundamental, because an empty apology pronounced only to calm the other or to avoid his anger is useless. You need to truly understand that you have been hurt.

Honestly asking for forgiveness is hard. It takes the courage to admit what we have done wrong.

expression of emotions

Once you have become aware of the damage caused, emotions such as guilt are likely to arise in you or regret. Like all the others, these emotions are necessary and have a function. In this case, they warn us that we have committed a transgression.

When talking to the person you have harmed, it is important to express how you feel about it. Let him know that you are hurt or ashamed that you failed him. This step can make you feel vulnerable and therefore you may want to skip it, but it is an essential ingredient.

Get the facts straight

when you apologize, try to clarify the acts or words you regret. A vague and generic apology is ineffective; the other person needs to know that you have pinpointed what has harmed them, so that you can prevent it in the future. So instead of saying “I’m sorry about the other night”gave “I’m sorry I raised my voice and insulted you”.

take your responsibility

How many times do we apologize trying to excuse ourselves or justify our behavior? These two acts seem contradictory, but they are more present than we think. “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I was very nervous” or “Forgive me for lying to you, but I knew you would be very angry” They are not valid alternatives.

It is important to be mature, responsible and take responsibility for our actions without trying to find extenuating circumstances. It is true that our behavior would be motivated by various reasons, but this does not matter now. It is essential to recognize that we made a mistake and that we should have acted differently Nevertheless.

speak in the first person

When you apologize, do you look for the other to also assume their share of the blame? If so, you must know that you are wrong.

Offering an apology is a voluntary and individual act. which is carried out by acknowledging an own fault and with the intention of correcting the damage caused. Thus, you should talk about yourself, what you did and how you have reflected on it.

On many occasions, all those involved have a part of the responsibility, but it is the task of each one to reflect and decide whether to try to correct the damage. In your case, forget for a moment what the others did and apologize for your part.

encourage change

This is one of the most relevant aspects when asking for an apology. We must be willing not to repeat the mistake.

Otherwise, there would be little point in apologizing for what had happened. We have to convey to the other person our commitment to change; We can even involve you and ask for your help so that the situation is more favorable the next time. For example, we can say “I know that the words I used hurt you, how else could I express myself so that you would not feel hurt?”.

We should not seek that the other also apologize for something when we do it. It is not the goal of repentance.


By last, we can find the most appropriate way to repair or remedy the damage. According to research, this is essential to restore trust.

For example, if we stood up a friend yesterday who asked us to help with their move, we can offer to help today. On other occasions, however, the solution is not so simple.

Before falling into empty topics like giving flowers, Let’s ask the other how they feel we could make it up to them.. What do you need or would you like to receive from us? This is the best way to hit.

Asking for an apology is validating what the other feels

Ultimately, the key to making an effective apology is that manage to convey to the other person that their feelings matter to usthat we have understood how we made him feel and that it hurts us to have generated those kinds of emotions.

Finally, human beings just want to be seen, heard, understood and taken into account. If you have the courage to admit your mistake, express yourself, be vulnerable and humble, the other will most likely accept your apology and both of you will be able to repair the bond. Therefore, do not hesitate to do it whenever you consider it necessary.

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