how to apologize in a healthy way

How To Apologize: 9 Rules For A Healthy Apology

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Who this micro-class is for

* Everyone

What you’ll learn

* How to apologize in a healthy way


* Less than 6 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Apologizing is an important aspect of maintaining healthy relationships, both personally and professionally. Effective apologies require a combination of sincerity, empathy, and a commitment to positive change.

Etiquette Rules and Best Practices for Apologizing

1. Be Sincere

Rule: Your apology should be genuine and heartfelt.

Best Practice: Take responsibility for your actions and express genuine remorse.

2. Acknowledge the Impact

Rule: Recognize how your actions may have affected the other person.

Best Practice: Show empathy by acknowledging the emotional impact of your behavior.

3. Use “I” Statements

Rule: Frame your apology in terms of your actions and feelings.

Best Practice: Say, “I’m sorry for what I did” rather than shifting blame.

4. Avoid Qualifiers

Rule: Don’t dilute your apology with words like “but” or “if.”

Best Practice: Say, “I’m sorry,” without adding conditions or excuses.

5. Offer to Make Amends

Rule: If appropriate, offer to take corrective actions.

Best Practice: Ask, “What can I do to make it right?” and follow through.

6. Choose the Right Time and Place

Rule: Timing is crucial; choose a time when both parties can focus on the conversation.

Best Practice: Find a private and comfortable setting for the apology.

7. Listen Actively

Rule: Allow the other person to express their feelings.

Best Practice: Listen attentively, without interrupting, and validate their emotions.

8. Learn from the Experience

Rule: Use the situation as an opportunity for personal growth.

Best Practice: Demonstrate a commitment to change by learning from your mistakes.

9. Follow Up

Rule: Check in later to ensure that the relationship is on the path to recovery.

Best Practice: Show that your apology wasn’t just a one-time gesture.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Apologizing


Mistake: Saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” without taking responsibility.

Consequence: It deflects blame and doesn’t convey genuine remorse.

Repeating the Behavior

Mistake: Apologizing for the same thing repeatedly without change.

Consequence: It undermines the sincerity of your apologies.

Making Excuses

Mistake: Justifying your actions instead of owning up to them.

Consequence: It can make the other person feel invalidated.

Insincere Tone

Mistake: Apologizing with a sarcastic or insincere tone.

Consequence: It can worsen the situation and create further tension.


Mistake: Apologizing excessively for minor things.

Consequence: It may dilute the impact of your sincere apologies.

Ignoring the Other Person’s Feelings

Mistake: Failing to acknowledge or validate the other person’s emotions.

Consequence: It can make them feel unheard and unimportant.

Not Taking Immediate Action

Mistake: Delaying the apology unnecessarily.

Consequence: It can allow negative feelings to fester.

Public Apologies for Private Matters

Mistake: Apologizing for personal issues in a public setting.

Consequence: It may embarrass the other person and create unnecessary tension.

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Resources and useful links