This Is What A Real Apology Looks and Sounds Like

April 22nd, 2024

Here are five signs that an apology is sincere and rooted In change.

Mother and son walking and talking

If you are awaiting an apology from your parent or have received one, you may want to know if the apology is actually a real apology.

Five Signs That An Apology Is Sincere And Rooted In Change:

  • The apology is heartfelt and sincere.
    • Not heartfelt and sincere: “Fine, I’m sorry!”
    • Heartfelt and sincere: “I apologize for my mistake.”
  • The apology should clearly show that you understand what you are apologizing for.
    • Does not demonstrate understanding: “I’m sorry for whatever I did.”
    • Clearly shows understanding: “The way I said that wasn’t kind, and it hurt you.”
  • The apology clearly shows that you have a plan of action to repair or improve in the future.
    • Does not show that there is a plan to repair: “Can we just move on? I’m sorry.”
    • Clearly shows there is a plan to repair or improve: “I am going to work on lowering my stress level before coming home from work. I don’t want to react that way when I’m frustrated.”
  • The apology may include an explanation for behavior, but not an excuse.
    • This is not an explanation: “I wouldn’t have yelled at you if you didn’t leave such a mess.”
    • This is an explanation and not an excuse: “I should have handled that differently. I had a really stressful day and obviously took it out on you.”
  • After the apology, there are changes in behavior and/or clear evidence the person is trying.
    • If there are no changes in behavior or attempts to improve, you will know because nothing will change.
    • Changes in behavior may include not repeating the pattern, lessening the frequency, recognition in the moment that a pattern is repeating, or consistent effort (example: therapy or learning regulation skills) to change the pattern.

If you are only hearing the words “I’m sorry” and none of these other signs are present, you may not be receiving a genuine apology.