Characteristics of an apology

We give them all the time. But are we doing it the right way?

As Beth Polin has pointed out, an apology is a statement with at least one of these six components:

  • An expression of regret—such as saying, “I’m sorry.”
  • An explanation (not justification).
  • An acknowledgment of responsibility.
  • A declaration of repentance.
  • An offer of repair
  • A request for forgiveness.

Here’s the thing, not all apologies are the same. Saying, “I’m sorry” is just the first step. Following through with the other five components requires risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure. 

The point of an apology is to restore trust, to repair wrongs; otherwise, why make them?

We don’t care if you are right, we care when people make things right.