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The Art of Apologizing: Why saying 'I'm sorry' is not enough

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Photography: Katie Lopez

If you have never apologized, like ever in your life – well, you should probably just skip this article and seek some help. Chances are – we have been down that road: we mess up, we hurt the ones we love, and we apologize. But the big question is: Is saying 'I'm sorry' – really enough?

Perhaps this might come as a news-flash, but here's the truth: apologizing is a process. In real life we could rarely take a tangible measure of how deep the wounds we inflicted on others. Thus it is safe to say that on some, healing is a process. Then, just as healing is a process, so is apologizing.

In his Last Lecture, Randy Pausch said that a bad apology has two different types: 'I'm sorry you feel hurt by what I have done', and 'I apologize for what I did, but you also need to apologize to me for what you have done.' Instead, a good apology should come in three sentences, in these exact order

1."I'm sorry."

Acknowledge that you have hurt the other person's feelings – and express it. Say it out loud.

2."It's my fault."

Admitting your fault is the second step. Your behavior inflicts wounds, and the best thing to do is to let the other people know – that you know, you are at fault.

3."What can I do to make things better?"

This is where most people forget to deliver – and here is the key. Acknowledging and admitting your fault is one thing; but making the effort to make amend – is another thing. This third part shows that you have a sincere apology, and will do much better in the future by not repeating the same mistake.

So is saying 'I'm sorry' enough? Unfortunately, no. Saying sorry comes with a package, and, an effort.

"A good apology is like antibiotic, a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound." – Randy Pausch

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