Are You Apologizing Right?

how to apologize

It's more than just saying "I'm Sorry" -- and here's why.

Saying that you're sorry after you know you've done something wrong is often not an easy task. You may have a hard time finding the right words, or be worried that the other person will reject your gesture. Even if you're anxious, the worst thing you can do is just say a generic "I'm sorry" without any feeling or sincerity.

If you want to extend an olive branch, here are some tips for how to apologize and truly improve your relationship:

  1. how to apologizeConnect with the other person’s emotions.

    Even if you’re upset with the person that you’re apologizing to because they have also done something wrong, take time to really think about where they are coming from and what their emotions are. When you can get a handle on what the other person is feeling you can begin to open up yourself and have an honest conversation. If you aren’t bothering to think about the other person’s feelings, they will be able to sense that and it will make it difficult to accept your apology.

  2. Show your own emotions and remorse.

    Open up about why you understand your actions or words hurt the other person and show that you’re sorry with not only your statements, but also your body language and tone of voice. If you tell someone you’re sorry in an angry or sarcastic tone, they are naturally likely to take it the wrong way. Use a soft tone of voice and open body language to show that you are not in a defensive stance. Be vulnerable, and talk about what it means to you that the relationship gets back on track.

  3. Understand the consequences of your actions.

    You can’t always expect someone to immediately forget that their pain ever happened and for things to just “go back to normal.” Depending on what you did, such as belittle or cheat on your partner, it may take time for the wound to heal and for trust to be rebuilt. Tell the person you’re apologizing to that you understand the consequences and will do what it takes to rebuild your dynamic. This will show them that you’re not just offering an empty apology and are willing to put in work to really make things right.

 Knowing how to apologize isn’t an easy task, a real apology needs to acknowledge and show real emotion. Every relationship will face arguments and will have a time for apologies – how you apologize can be the difference between expanding the cracks the hurt caused or filling them up and bringing you closer as a couple.

About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653