When you come across as sincere, your apology will be received as heartfelt.

What not to include in your apology.

  • “I’m sorry you feel that way… It wasn’t what I intended.”
  • “It was never my intention to hurt you.”
  • “You’re taking it out of proportion.”
  • “You’re so sensitive.”

  • How they feel is up to them.
  • This also sounds like you are trying to get yourself the hook and remain ‘innocent’ in your eyes.

You have own up to the fact that you hurt someone and apologize.

Take responsibility – even if you never intended to hurt the other person.

What not to include in your apology.

  • “I’m sorry if  I hurt your feelings…”  Adding that  if is somewhat deflecting your responsibility. It is like saying “I am sorry that you were insulted by my innocent words”, as if possibly you didn’t say something insensitive after all.

    Just be sorry that they were insulted by your poor choice of words. “I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings.”

Your apology should be ‘other focused’. When you make excuses or push responsibility, it cheapens the apology.

What not to include in your apology.

  • “I’m sorry for being rude, but  you were [driving me crazy with those jokes].”  That is blaming the other one for your actions. Just apologize for being rude; don’t deflect any of your responsibility.

  • “I’m sorry. I obviously  didn’t mean it the way you misconstrued it.”  Now you are blaming the other for misunderstanding the words you said. As if it is their fault. And that word obviously is again pushing responsibility; as if the other person is so dumb to think you meant it in that way.

Admit what you did – even if it makes you squirm.

What not to include in your apology.

  • “I’m sorry for what happened.”  Without actually stating what you did wrong. That’s not taking enough ownership of whatever it is that you did. Are you too ashamed to actually hear your own voice say what you did?

  • “Let’s forget this ever happened.” “Let’s move forward from here.”   The one who wronged has no right to say that, you can’t rush the forgiveness process. These words are reserved for the one who was wronged to say when they are ready.

Don’t dilute your apology.

What not to include in your apology.
After you’ve said your apology, just let it be. Don’t backtrack, don’t add caveats or excuses, don’t add conditions. This is not about you and your ego, this apology is about the other person.

  •  ”Yes I was wrong but you have to admit I’m not the only one who was wrong here.”
  • “Yes I was wrong but in general you have to admit my point still stands.”
  • “Yes I was wrong but it was wrong of you to make a big deal out of it.”

A true apology should not serve to silence the other person.

What not to include in your apology.
You may be uncomfortable. And you may hope that your spouse moves on already. But it is not up to you to force the forgiveness and moving on.

  • “I said I’m sorry. What more do you want me to do?”
  • “I said I’m sorry a hundred times. Let’s not bring it up anymore.”
  • “I have told you I’m sorry over and over again and you keep bringing it up. Are you going to punish me forever?”
  • “I told you I’m sorry. Are you ever going to get past this?”

Don’t apologize for someone else’s feelings.

What not to include in your apology.
A true apology keeps the focus on your actions and not the other person’s response to your actions. 

  • “I’m sorry you are mad.”

Apologies are for the other person ONLY – not for you.

  • A true apology doesn’t get caught up in who’s more to blame or who started it.
  • Forgiveness should not be what’s motivating you to apologize. Don’t insist on forgiveness.
  • You can’t insist on forgiveness or that they forget.

  • Don’t demand (not even expect) an apology in response to your apology.
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