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6 Tips on How to Apologize

Updated on September 19, 2012

Apologies seem to come more easily to some people than others. In general, if a person has a desire to make amends in order to repair damage from a breach in trust, a verbal conflict or an embarrassing situation that was created by him, then it is only a matter of right timing and right method.

Who apologizes more often?

Do you ever wonder if it is men or women who are the ones to apologize more often? Although I have not researched this it would appear that, stereotypically, women apologize more. Again, no scientific facts, but most of the men that I know do not readily admit that they are wrong in a situation. It usually takes a woman to point this out. Why? Well, historically, it is the woman who has taught her family civility. Therefore, it is usually a woman who will approach the situation first to smooth things over. And, it is the female child in the family who is usually groomed to be passive and accommodating.

However, this is not the case when particular personalities are involved. In cases in which there is much immaturity, undeveloped personality and great ego it is difficult for someone to admit their wrongdoing. When this happens frequently it can cause long lasting damage to the relationship. Here are three conditions in which it may be difficult for the person you are dealing with to admit they are wrong:

Three scenarios that are exceptions to the norm

People who have been unjustly criticized as youngsters growing up; perhaps with an overbearing or abusive parent, can often become defended and not want to appear vulnerable or weak. In those situations it takes an understanding friend or partner to gently broach the subject of wrongdoing.

People suffering from disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorders, may also have difficulty apologizing. In these cases there is a perceived threat towards the image of who they think they are. In situations such as this the target of the incident may be the recipient of the other person’s rage.

It is not advisable to get into a match of wits with someone who has exhibited rage or other signs of personality disorder. You are not dealing with a rational person. Better to remain true to your own reality, but not attempt to convince the perpetrator of your disagreement with him.

Thirdly, for many reasons there are a greater number of people who feel entitled. This entitlement obscures their ability to accurately assess their behavior. With the attitude that they deserve to have privileges without responsibility, they refuse to apologize because ‘it’s not their problem’; when in fact, it is usually this very attitude that may have created the rift.

Do's and Don'ts of an apology

A good apology is a beautiful thing because it is a fence mender. A fence mender is the glue that will get you back in good graces with the person you have hurt. It is what has bridged the gap between neighbors over centuries.

1. Recognize what went wrong, own your part in the conflict, and be honest and sincere.

2. Choose a time in which your apology will be heard; a time when you have the other person’s full attention.

3. Review the cause briefly, if necessary, but don’t rehash old stuff. Don’t revert to blame.

4. Remember that the outcome may be different than what you expect-it is not up to you to convince the other person to accept or forgive you-especially if it is a situation of trust. Your goal is to own up to what you did and let the other person know that you recognize this.

5. Be open to further discussion if the offended party wishes to make some points.

6. Be prepared to hold good any promise or agreement that is negotiated in the process.

There are other facts to consider when you are the one who is apologizing. Here are a few tips to remember:

1. Don’t pick a time when the person you had the falling out with is too busy to converse.

2. Shouting or raising your voice during the discussion is NOT apologizing.

3. Don’t retaliate by drudging up old junk the other person has done in the past.

4. Stay focused on how you behaved and how you want to help the person trust you again.

5. Everyone has their own limits and time in which they are ready to ‘forgive’-don’t push.

6. Avoid manipulating an outcome when you offer your apology.

Even the recipiant has responsibilities

For those who are receiving an apology keep these suggestions in mind:

1. Be aware of your own feelings. If you are not ready to discuss the situation or receptive to the wrongdoer, express that calmly and honestly.

2. Don’t bring up old garbage that can block the current situation from moving forward.

3. Listen to the apology without interruption or formulating an answer prematurely.

4. Be a gracious recipient. Unless your partner has done something you deem unforgiveable at the time, accept the apology that is handed to you.

Offer a bouquet of flowers as an apology.
Offer a bouquet of flowers as an apology. | Source

7 Simple ways to apologize

For as long as people have been living together in society there has been one form of apology or another. Remember the old dog house cartoons depicting the man in there after a blunder of some sort? This would be followed up with a large bouquet of flowers. But, flowers are just one way to apologize. Here are a few more suggestions:

1. Flowers

2. Candy

3. A small gift

4. A phone call

5. A card that brings the message-or, a blank card that you can create a message.

6. A sincere, “I’m sorry”.

7. Not repeating the behavior that got you in trouble in the first place.


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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Sherry, that is for sure! hee hee. Sometimes it is a very testy atmosphere when we are trying to 'clear the air'. :) Thanks for your comment.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Great advice. Isn't it amazing how often what starts out as an apology degenerates into another argument?

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Yes, DDE It isn't easy to apologize and for some it is harder than others. Thank you for your thoughts on this. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      6 Tips on How to Apologize well advised tips here and often an apology is not easily thought of or approaching the individual can be the hardest.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Ishwaryaa22 for your comments. I appreciate you reading this. :)

      WhdThatHappen-your comment intrigues me. What is it that you are basing your assumption on in re: to men's apologies being more sincere?

      Hi learner365-thanks for the vote-glad you found the info useful.

    • learner365 profile image

      Saadia A 5 years ago

      Great advice. It is indeed hard for some people to apologize but again peace and staying good in relationships is that matters the most. Thank you for the sound advice on apologizing as well as suggestions on the responsibilities of the person receiving an apology.

      Voted up and useful !!!!

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      Hmm, women apologize more often, but men's apologies have a higher percent chance of being sincere

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wise hub packed with sensible points. I agree with your points. Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Shared

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Audrey-thanks so much for your lovely comment. I hope that it is helpful to others. I appreciate the vote up.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Very helpful suggestions Denise. This is an excellent hub and quite timely for me. I'm voting up and all across (not funny) and will share this because we all need to hear these good reminders.

      You always seem to know how to come up with a class A hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Rajan-thank you for your feedback and vote up. I appreciate it.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very well written and surely useful in times like these.

      Voted up, useful and beautiful.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kathy-not sure in what way I helped you out, but glad that things are working out for you...take care. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      kathy 6 years ago

      First, I wanted to thank you for the Lots-of-Luck spell that you have casted for me late last

      year; I must confess that the good luck that I have had for the last two months have been

      amazing, and I cannot thank you enough for them; things that were on the far ends of my

      imagination just some months ago have materialized, and I must say I am very content with what

      was brought about by your effort.thank to Dr.(

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Tammy Have a wonderful day today

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Very helpful! Great hubs!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello ubanichijioke-I had to smile about your comment. Yes, I think it is usually men who have more difficulty admitting they may have offended someone, somehow...but, it is honorable to apologize. Many blessings, my friend.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 6 years ago from Lagos

      The points you made are outstanding. I ve learnt from you today. To ask for forgiveness is always a difficult task by the men-folk considering their ego. But when you want peace, apology is not an option but a must if you wrong someone. Be blessed

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Cloverleaf-I agree, sincerity is the key...otherwise it is just superficial. Thanks for your comments-nice to meet you also.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Great suggestions, Denise. I think it's important to look the other person in the eye when saying "I'm Sorry" - otherwise it may not seem sincere.

      It's a great pleasure to meet you here on HubPages :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks injured lamb-nice to meet you. Thanks for the vote.

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 6 years ago

      Hi Denise, voted up this. It's indeed some useful tips for us to learn how and when to apologize in life especially to our loved one when once a while we may do wrong. Well done!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi manthy-thanks for reading and commenting. I was inspired after receiving an apology letter from someone who was out of line with some remarks in a conversation with me. It was a heart warming gesture and I realized that it is easier for some to apologize than others.

      PS-I'm always looking for hub topics, even in the ordinary things of life. :)

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Well said, to be truly apologetic I think you must feel like you have done something wrong, I don't know why it is so hard to say I'm sorry, but the reality is sometimes it can be very difficult for some people.

      I hope this hub will find the heart of a person who needs to apoligize and to the ears of someone who has been waiting so anxiously for it.

      Good Stuff

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      katrinasui-thanks for visiting the hub and commenting. Glad you found it useful. :)

      Hi Mamelody-LOL you are so right. That is the problem, though, isn't it? We don't think about the consequences of our words or actions until we see the reaction of others. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Mamelody profile image

      Mamelody 6 years ago

      if people read this hub before the went off at each other that would spare the agony of apologizing! Fantastic hub, very insightful.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 6 years ago

      A very well written hub with great tips on how to apologize. Very useful!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh Bud, LOL that is hilarious. Thanks for reading.

      Well sister, it was inspired by 'you-know-who' :) thanks for the vote.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Written from the heart, Denise, and nicely so. Good info for us all on apologies and how to do them well. Voted up

    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 6 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Interesting. If I need to make an apology in the future I will remember to consult this for tips. :)


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Temirah-thanks so much for reading and your kind comments. :)

      Acaetnna-how are you? I can't tell you how many times I've heard that old brush off, "sorry" begrudgingly said.

      Oh well, takes all kinds.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      A great article. People often think that just a quick 'sorry' is all that is needed but that is certainly not the case. Well done for offering so much information on an important subject.

    • Temirah profile image

      Temirah 6 years ago

      Beautifully written and so gentle. Sorry is indeed so much more than just a word,

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ann-grace in learning to apologize-what wonderful words. I agree-thanks for your comments.

      Robin-what a sweet moment. That is what good parenting is all about-setting an honorable role model for our children-good for you.

      Hi Pam and Ruby-thank you for stopping by to read and comment. :)

      b. Thank you for your feedback-appreciated. You are fortunate to have a man who readily apologizes. My husband John was a sensitive, romantic man who did not have a problem saying, "I'm sorry", but since his death I have met some stubborn, hardheaded and arrogant men who would rather die than admit they need to apologize for something.

      Marky, thanks for your comments and votes. I totally agree about 'not meaning' you're sorry-just words...I actually meant to emphasize it in the hub but it was late (or early in the a.m.) and I was brain fried... :)

    • the clean life profile image

      Mark Bruno 6 years ago from New Jersey Shore

      Another wonderful hub Denise with so much great advice for all of us to learn from. I truly think that woman mature much faster than men do and can handle things much better. Anyone can say "I am sorry' but do they really mean it.

      Thanks for a great hub! Voted Up and Useful

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Women have always been the Thinkers, so yes, I have to agree, we are the first to say "I'm sorry, and mean it. Lover Man is good at it too, and sometimes we both even say "I'm sorry" at the same time. As usual a well written and Thought provoking Hub, Denise.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      A GREAT article on apologies. Thank you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Excellent hub on proper apologies! Voted up and useful.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Wonderful suggestions, Denise. I had never thought of the reasons why someone might not be able to apologize. On a personal note, a good friend of mine apologized to me last week. She said, "I'm sorry, I felt bad all day because I thought I might have hurt your feelings." As it turns out, I didn't even know what she was referring to, it hadn't hurt my feelings at all. The part that I found meaningful was that our 8 and 5 year olds heard the conversation. They asked my friend why she was apologizing. It was a great teaching moment. I said, "That's what friends do when they feel like they have hurt someone's feelings - even adults." I think it's important for kids to see how adults deal with conflict and apologize to one another. Cheers!

    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 6 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      There is certainly a grace to learning how to apologise. great hub Denise, voted up and stuff.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Charlotte-thank you for reading and commenting. I agree, but I suppose that is what makes this an interesting, if not challenging, world go round.

      Hi Tim-yes-insensitive...#%#@ old boogers, to say the least! LOL Then, there are those who have been groomed to ALWAYS accept that everything is their fault and have to be taught to stay with what is true-as scary as that is to NOT repeat the same pattern. I always appreciate your comments, Tim-thanks.

    • timorous profile image

      timorous 6 years ago from Me to You

      Nicely written Denise. It's true, some people are just predisposed to being insensitive, and egotistical. You have to choose your moment. It also does no one any good to hold a grudge. You need to let the past go, and move on, and try not to repeat the same mistakes.

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      This is really beautifully written and so useful. Indeed if we could all practice these tips, wouldn't life be so much more pleasant?

      Thank you for sharing this! Voted up =)