Sometimes it happens – you’re blindsided by someone or something that upsets you and you don’t respond with elegance and class (like you usually do.) You wish you could rewind and rephrase. But you can’t. So you try, maybe ineptly, to make amends. But here’s how to ruin an apology.
First, one caveat: I’m not talking about a legal liability issue, that’s a different subject. Let’s focus on those ever-present personal interactions that we don’t handle as smoothly as we’d like. Sometimes our egos get in the way of rebuilding our relationship and moving forward constructively. So we clumsily attempt to apologize.
A very common way to ruin an apology is one you hear every day. Have you ever told someone, “I’m sorry you feel that way?” Is that an apology, or further assigning blame to them for their feelings? You may not realize that there is a high cost to blame. If you’re sorry, say your sorry for what YOU did, not how they probably felt about it.
There are many more ways you can ruin an apology, mostly by finding creative ways to blame someone or something else. Here are a few examples:
- I’m sorry, but you made me (fill in the blank.) Did he/she really make you do it?
- I’m sorry I’m late, but (fill in the excuse.) So it’s not my fault, after all.
- I’m sorry for whatever I said/did (don’t you know?)
- Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry! For what – can you be more specific?
- I’m sorry for (this) if you’re sorry for (that.)
- Please, tell me you forgive me!
It’s better to simply say you’re sorry and be specific about what you did that you’re sorry for. Then add how you plan to avoid repeating this issue in the future. Others know you’re only human, and you’re bound to slip up occasionally. So don’t make it worse and ruin an apology. You haven’t peaked yet!