How to Give a Real Apology

And it’s not about how you can save face

In today’s culture, you don’t often see people give a real apology. They don’t even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong. They make excuses for their behavior, and they try to skirt around the issue. As a result, they say nothing of any importance, and their relationship with the offended party worsens.

real apology

Today nobody expects anyone to apologize anymore. People want to save face and pretend that they haven’t done anything wrong. Politicians say they are “sorry IF they have offended anyone.” But that doesn’t deal with anything and it doesn’t help their credibility improve.

So what does a real apology look like? Here are three steps to making a real apology and what you can expect to happen as a result.


1. Realize what you did (or did not do)


It is important to understand what you did or didn’t do. You first have to come to terms with what happened. It’s not about sweeping it under the rug or pretending it never happened. You have to acknowledge your part in what happened.

People tend to want to revise history in terms of how it will enhance their story. But by doing that, they ignore how their actions affects other people’s story. No one is an island. Everything you do affects someone else. Your actions have consequences, and you must be prepared to deal with them.


2. Admit what you did (or did not do)


Then it’s crucial to admit what you did or didn’t do to the other person(s). But people don’t want to do that. They feel like that will make them vulnerable in front of other people. They feel like they will be exposed as having done something wrong.

But the truth is that they have done something wrong. Someone has been harmed by something that was said or done, and amends must be made. It’s not like they can hide from what they did or didn’t do. What happened is known. Anything less than a real apology will make them look foolish.


3. Express sorrow over what you did (or didn’t do)


Here’s the hard part. It’s important to be remorseful over what happened. You don’t have to cry crocodile tears over it. But you do have to show that you are genuinely sorry over what you did or didn’t do and how it impacted the other person(s).

People tend to want to save face by running from what they did. But the truth is the only way to save face is to publicly realize what happened, admit what happened, and express sorrow over what happened. That is the only way that you can restore the relationship. Because that’s the only way you can give a real apology.


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4 thoughts on “How to Give a Real Apology

  1. I’d also add #4, we need to (at least attempt to) make it right. If possible, we need to correct, fix, or amend anything we did or didn’t do. If there is some action we can take to correct the problem, and we fail to take it, we negate the 3 steps above.