5 Things That Undermine an Apology – Prepare/Enrich

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a bad apology? How did it make you feel? Even if you couldn’t articulate exactly what what was off about it, you might have walked away feeling a sense of dissatisfaction, or even more hurt or angry than you were initially. Have you been on the other side of this situation? You tried to apologize to your spouse, but it was not received well. Maybe you felt like you were doing all the right things, but it’s not coming across the way you’d like. What went wrong?

The fact of the matter is, a meaningful apology is more than just uttering the words, “I’m sorry.” Here are five things that can undermine an apology.

1. The “I’m sorry, but…”

If you’re adding “but” to the end of your apology, you’re essentially contradicting anything you said before it. Sometimes it’s an excuse: “I’m sorry I said that, but I was really frustrated.” Other times it’s a way to shift blame: “I’m sorry I did that, but you did it first.” And sometimes, you’re simply trying to offer an explanation: “I’m sorry I was so late and didn’t call, but I took a wrong turn.” It’s natural to want to explain yourself and even to deflect blame away from yourself. However, attaching these conditions to your apology is essentially leaning into an excuse for what you did. Instead, work on taking ownership and ...  Read more


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