There are many ways to say you are "sorry" but some might be more effective than others. Co-authors Marjorie Ingall and Susan McCarthy of the new book Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies, drew from a range of research to find out what makes a good apology.
They found there are SIX steps to a great apology:
- Say you're sorry. Not that you "regret," not that you are "devastated." Say you're "sorry."
- Say what it is that you're apologizing for. Be specific.
- Show you understand why it was bad, take ownership, and show that you understand why you caused hurt.
- Don't make excuses.
- Say why it won't happen again. What steps are you taking?
- If it's relevant, make reparations: "I'm going to pay for the dry cleaning. Just send the bill to me. I'm going to do my best to fix what I did."
And if you're trying to give a sincere apology, avoid using these words:
- "obviously" ("If it was obvious, you wouldn't have to say it")
- "already" ("'I've already apologized' is a thing we hear a lot"),
- qualifiers like "sorry if..." and "sorry but..." and "I didn't meant to."