ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

On saying sorry: The apology is not about you

Updated on July 19, 2011

It takes a lot to apologize sometimes, which is strange considering that it usually entails saying “I’m sorry.” However, the ease of just uttering or writing words can devalue an apology. After all, it can sometimes be used without feeling or meaning – like the famous phrase “I love you.”

Does this look familiar?

A: Yes, but that pissed me off.

B: Well, I’m sorry.

A: Why did you do that anyway?!

B: Hey, I said I was sorry. Geez!

When we did something wrong or that offended others when we were younger, we were taught to apologize. That’s not a bad thing, since it’s important to take responsibility for your actions and show remorse. However, the impression given by some is that merely uttering the words is sufficient remedy.

That’s balderdash. Why? Well, there is a difference between a sincere apology and a perfunctory one. This is one reason for some apologies being bypassed by the person affected. If it seems too quick or said in the wrong tone, then it may even have the opposite effect.

Still, have you ever been in a situation where you apologize wholeheartedly and it seems to have no effect? This might seem perplexing to many, especially when you can do little else but apologize. I recall a situation when I was on vacation in Tobago; I told a female acquaintance that I’d rather not hear her singing. I tried not to be rude about it, but that got her really upset. Although I apologized for it, she was upset for the trip home and probably some days after.

The reality is that the apology is not everything, but that does not mean that it is nothing. The person that is upset, hurt or angry just needs to cool down considerably before they can really accept the apology fully.

Think of it this way. Whatever you did or said was a spark that ignited the person’s emotions negatively. They went from 0 to 100 degrees quickly. However, reversing the process is not as instantaneous. It’s easy to think “I apologized, so we should be good now.” If it’s a trifling incident, it may be the case, but sometimes the cooling off period is necessary.

Another reason for the apology not being able to immediately assuage another is that there may be some unresolved issues created by the situation that needs to be addressed. Perhaps the affected person just needs comfort for whatever fears or emotions that the situation stirred up. There needs to be some meaningful dialogue (which many poor communicators wish to avoid) in the aftermath. Perhaps you have done or said things before that affected the person similarly; you may seem like a habitual apologist.

Sometimes, persons apologize so that they would not have to “feel bad” about offending another. They really want to live the issue down quickly. But let me ask you this: Is the apology for you or the other person? Maybe the most important thing to remember about apologizing is that it’s not an automatic pacifier – even if it is heartfelt and sincere.


Submit a Comment

  • SpiffyD profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comment Jennuhlee. I was inspired to write it when I reflected on the insincerity of some apologies. I noticed that many persons were inclined to think that their apologies are better than BandAid.

  • Jennuhlee profile image


    7 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Great hub and such a unique topic! Saying sorry is such a commonly taken for granted phrase. I love that you worte a whole hub on its importance.

  • SpiffyD profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the read and comment WeeBGB

  • WeeBGB profile image


    7 years ago from Arizona

    I LOVE this, SpiffD! :O) My BF and I are very aware of this, and in our house there are no "sorries", only apologies, when things HAVE calmed down and we've both had a chance to really think about what took place. We both put our focus on our own reactions to what happened, and when we think we have calmed down enough, we talk more about it and discover many very important things about ourselves. AND each other! :O) And that's when we look each other directly in the eyes and say "I apologize!", so that we both know it's from the Heart!

    Thanks for this awesome topic! I think more people should read this so they can apply it to their own lives, "if they so choose"!!!! :O)

    Have an awesome day, Darrel! :O)

  • skdwivediji profile image

    Shivkesh Dwivedi 

    7 years ago from Indore, India

    really apologizing and saying sorry both are very different things.

  • WillStarr profile image


    7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    True. The apology must be heartfelt and based on real regret.

    It is also important for the apology to be received and accepted in the same, sincere manner in which it was offered.

    Good Hub.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)