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Have you ever wondered why your apology might not be working? It has surely happened to all of us. Sometimes we end up asking for forgiveness and somehow it still isn’t good enough. Has it ever occurred to you that it may be in your best interest to reevaluate how you apologize? If so, take a look at the list below.


5 Apologies That Don’t Work:


I’ll only be sorry if…
This false apology is insinuating that there are strings attached. This position holds power over the other person because it is guilting them into accepting an apology upon condition. A genuine apology is not conditional. If you are looking for strings attached, try attending a puppet show.

I’m sorry! But…
The phrase “but” is tricky. In a context like this it completely minimizes the apology. This appears to brush over the importance of the apology and rush quickly into another agenda. Unfortunately, it erases the gravity of the apology, which quickly be seen as not taking things seriously.
I’m sorry ok?! I’m sorry!
An apology like this looks an awful lot like folding to make the other move on, rather than truly feeling sorry. This is appeasement. It says, “I’ll say it only because you WANT me to say it, not because I really feel it.” This apology leaves too much room for confusion and further hurt.
Sorry, can’t we just get over it?!
No. People can’t just get over it. Not until the pain is heard and seen. This apology is pushing too hard, too fast. When you have to ask someone to “get over it”, you need to re-evaluate how you are showing your true intentions of asking for forgiveness.
I’m sorry you feel that way, not for what I did.
This is not an apology. This stance only shows a lack of ownership by refusing to acknowledge your part in causing hurt. This can lead to heightened reactions and more fighting.

The best apologies are the ones that acknowledge the pain, convey an understanding of how the other feels, then asks for forgiveness through an apology.  It may look something like this: “Hey, I see you…I hear you…I can tell this hurt. I am sorry that this hurt. I don’t want to hurt you. Will you forgive me?” When people feel deeply heard then things begin to change. It may not be done on the first apology, but avoiding the detours listed above will get you there a lot quicker.


For more on effective communication, check out 31 Empathetic Statements that Show You Care.

About the Author: Emily De La Torre

This is a guest post from a wonderful local counselor, Emily De La Torre. Emily is a fellow therapist who runs Pax Family Counseling in Vancouver, WA.  To learn more about Pax Family Counseling, you can check them out here.