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​This information is included in our Guide to Communication Skills. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

When you have done something that hurts another person’s feelings or results in negative consequences for another person, and you need to apologize, you should:

  1. Look at the person. It shows confidence.
  2. Say what you are sorry about. (Say, “I’m sorry I said that” or “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to what you said.”)
  3. Make a follow-up statement if the person says something to you. (Say, “Is there any way I can make it up to you?” or “It won’t happen again.”)
  4. Thank the person for listening (even if the person did not accept your apology).

Reasons for using the skill, Apologizing: It is important to apologize because it shows that you are sensitive to others’ feelings. It increases the chances that other people will be careful of your feelings in return. Apologizing also shows that you are responsible enough to admit your mistakes.

It is easy to avoid making apologies; it takes guts to be mature enough to do it. Convince yourself that making an apology is the best thing to do and then do it!

If the other person is upset with you, the response you receive may not be very nice at that time. Be prepared to take whatever the other person says. Be confident that you are doing the right thing.

When people look back on your apology, they will see that you were able to realize what you did wrong. They will think more positively of you in the future.

An apology won’t erase what you did wrong. But, it may help change a person’s opinion of you in the long run.

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