3 min read

Some people believe that to admit to being wrong is to show weakness. They think that one should “never apologise, never explain”. Those people are cowards. There is no shame in saying you are sorry, although you may feel plenty of shame for whatever it is that you did that necessitates you do so. Do everyone a favour and learn how to apologise.

Things you should be sorry about

I hate having to apologise. It’s not the act of atonement that I abhor, it’s that there is reason for which I am responsible and I should be better than that. If I need to apologise it means I have done one or more stupid things among but not limited to:

  • been wrong about something significant
  • thoughtlessly insulted someone
  • mentally hurt someone or caused them physical pain
  • broken a promise, or
  • engaged in some other unacceptable behaviour.

Stop making insincere apologies

Before you start crafting your apology:

  • decide if you are actually sorry and if you wish to publicly admit to that. If the answer to either is no, then you’re likely trying to save money or face and people may correctly call you out on this
  • ask yourself if you have an overriding urge to insert a conjunction (but, though, however, etc) and accompanying rationale mitigating your role into your apology. You may believe that you are sorry, but If the rationale is more important to you than the apology, then don’t bother with the latter
  • if you are thinking of telling anyone that you are sorry “if they thought”, or “if they felt” offended by something that you said or did, which was “not your intention”: stop! Forget the apology and just slap them in the face instead – it’s more honest.

If you are still not certain you owe someone an apology but you have a vague feeling you ought to or someone suggested you should, then find a step and sit on it until you have figured out what you did wrong. If you find it difficult to empathise with the subject(s) of your possible apology then try this.

Apologise properly

A proper apology should involve your time and effort and be sincere because at a very basic level most people know when an apology ain’t worth sh*t. Do not waste the time of someone to whom you have already done wrong with small “s” sorries: that is the behaviour of an infant.

The word sorry etched into what looks like a kitchen table
  • Start with “I am sorry” or “I apologise “and explain what you did wrong and proffer how you think it affected the person(s) to whom you are saying sorry
  • Being sorry isn’t enough. People need to know that you understand your culpability, so explain why you are sorry
  • Is there a way you can make it right? If you are unsure how to do this, then ask the person(s) you wronged and pray they are more reasonable than you. Don’t make token gestures but be careful with the standard that you set for any future apologies
  • Promise to try to be better in the future but never promise that it won’t happen again unless you are 100% committed to sticking to that because if you break that trust – you are done.

Stop doing stupid things

Finished with your latest apology? Good, now for the hard part: stop doing stupid things for which you need to apologise. Yes, I know this may be difficult but trust me: if you spend a little more time in thinking about the outcome(s) of whatever you are about to say or do, then there is a good chance you will need to say sorry less often. And that is a good thing for everyone involved.

Finally, you are never too old to learn from whatever mistakes you make or crimes you commit – it is your job to be a better person. Good luck.


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Created: 15th June 2018, Published: 21st May 2019
Updated: 22nd September 2019 – addition of Previous link.
Updated: 11th December 2019 – addition of Next link.

© JAK 2019
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