Every apology needs to start with two magic words: “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize.” This is essential, because these words express remorse over your actions.
For example, you could say: “I’m sorry that I snapped at you yesterday. I feel embarrassed and ashamed by the way I acted.”
Your words need to be sincere and authentic . Be honest with yourself, and with the other person, about why you want to apologize. Never make an apology when you have ulterior motives, or if you see it as a means to an end.
Timeliness is also important here. Apologize as soon as you realize that you’ve wronged someone else.
Next, admit responsibility for your actions or behavior, and acknowledge what you did.
Here, you need to empathize with the person you wronged, and demonstrate that you understand how you made her feel.
Don’t make assumptions – instead, simply try to put yourself in that person’s shoes and imagine how she felt.
For example: “I know that I hurt your feelings yesterday when I snapped at you. I’m sure this embarrassed you, especially since everyone else on the team was there. I was wrong to treat you like that.”
When you make amends , you take action to make the situation right.
Here are two examples:
“If there’s anything that I can do to make this up to you, please just ask.”
“I realize that I was wrong to doubt your ability to chair our staff meeting. I’d like you to lead the team through tomorrow’s meeting to demonstrate your skills.”
Think carefully about this step. Token gestures or empty promises will do more harm than good. Because you feel guilty, you might also be tempted to give more than what’s appropriate – so be proportionate in what you offer.