Many times we feel that we have fully apologized to another person about how we have offended or wronged them. But the offended person may want to hear more than just the two words “I’m sorry.” They may have heard that apology several times from the same person and been betrayed or disappointed again by the same actions or words. So the simple “I’m sorry” can seem empty and meaningless. Use these five elements of a sincere apology and then put these elements into action to win a person’s trust back.
- Expressing Regret
“I am sorry for……” Say what you’re sorry for specifically. Saying the words describing the offense you are apologizing for shows the listener that you have heard and understood what you did that was hurtful to him or her.
- Accepting Responsibility
“I was wrong to ……..” Explain what offensive or hurtful action or speech you are accepting as your bad. This lets the listener know that you are not only asking for forgiveness with an apology, but you are naming what you did and that you admit it was offensive to her or him. This admission says that I am truly sorry for what I did or said not simply because I was called out on it.
- Making Restitution
“What can I do to help you start trusting me again?”This tells the listener that you are not only willing to admit that you committed an offense but that you want to try to right the situation in some way and prove to them that you want their trust back. This also allows the one offended to have a say in what would make your relationship right again.
- Genuinely Promising Change
“I am committed to doing everything I can to never do this again.” Tell the listener that you not only want to say you’re sorry for the offense, but you want to make sure that the offense never happens again. Tell them what you will do to stop yourself from committing the same offense.
- Requesting Forgiveness
“Will you please forgive me?”At this point asking for forgiveness from the one you offended or hurt marks the apology as genuine. Because you are sorry for what you did, admitted what you did, offered to make good on the hurt relationship and trust, and promised change in your behavior in the future, the listener is more likely to genuinely forgive you because of your genuine apology.