(not sorry)

I’ve read a critical mass of bad “apologies” on the internet in the last few days. Provoking headdesks, facepalms, and now this list.

An apology is:

  1. Unqualified

    No “But you must admit’s”, no “I was just’s”, no “To be fair’s”.

  2. Owned

    There is a subtle but essential distinction between “I’m sorry I hurt you” and “I’m sorry you were hurt”.

  3. Explicit

    There should be some indication that that the issue and its gravity is understood, and space for responses like: “actually that wasn’t the (only) issue, X was (also) the issue.”

  4. Just the start

    “But I apologised” is not a magic phrase. Apologies, regardless of their sincerity, don’t automatically grant forgiveness or absolution or an audience.

Apologies are not for avoiding embarrassment or guilty feelings, or for making yourself look good, they’re not resolution, and their acceptance isn’t automatic or required.

I have fallen short of many of these. If you too have apologised incompletely, don’t fret! It doesn’t mean you didn’t genuinely feel apologetic. However, it does mean you expressed it poorly if you truly meant well, and (like me) can do better next time.