Components of an Effective Apology

The Return of the Prodigal Son (Rembrandt)

The Return of the Prodigal Son (Rembrandt)

Apologizing is more than just saying you're sorry.

An effective apology has six (and a half) components according to Marjorie Ingall and Susan McCarthy, the authors of the book Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies:

  1. the words "I'm sorry" or "I apologize"
  2. the specific reason you're apologizing; the thing you did
  3. an understanding of why your actions hurt another person
  4. an explanation for why you did what you did (but don't make excuses)
  5. a plan for how you will avoid this infraction again in the future
  6. an offer to fix what's broken

Finally, listen to the person you hurt. That's the half step.