Love may mean never having to say you're sorry, but for the rest of us, at some point, we're going to have to apologize for something we have said or done. This can be difficult and painful, but it can also frequently turn a negative into a positive and alleviate a big mistake. However, if you apologize wrong, it can turn a bad mistake into a worse one. So, here are some tips on how to say you're sorry.
1. Prepare yourself - it may not be pretty. An apology won't
always have a happy ending. Prepare yourself for the fact that you
aren't always going to instantly make amends - sorry isn't a magic word.
2. Don't use the word "but" and don't make excuses. If you try to condition your apology, you fail. Don't refer to past behavior, don't say, "I'm sorry, but this happened because...." Don't even use the word "but" to transition - using words like but or however tends to get people thinking that they are being confrontational.
3. Get the timing right. Sometimes, something you say or do can make a person so irate that an apology will only make matters worse. Other times, a quick apology is the only way to save face. The timing varies on the situation and the severity of whatever you did wrong, but make sure you get it right!
4. Be specific about what you did. Don't say, "I'm sorry for hurting your feelings." You are basically apologizing for the way the person feels, and that isn't it. You need to apologize for your specific action, not the reaction that it causes. Apologizing for hurting someone's feelings can only lead to more hurt feelings.
5. Ask for another chance. Make sure that you look to the future when apologizing, state that you will not commit the offense again and ask for another chance. This can help shift the focus from what you did wrong to what you will do right.
6. Take full responsibility. Don't try and blame someone else,
even if that really was the case. It looks weasely and sneaky. It also
looks like you are trying to avoid apologizing, and nothing looks worse
than a half-hearted apology. If something is your fault, swallow your
pride and say it. Take full and total responsibilities for your
actions. "This is my fault, and I take full responsibility for it," can go a long way.