What are the ingredients of a true apology?

I have heard many apologies in my life, but it wasn't until I received a true apology that I felt validated as a person.  For years I heard statements such as: "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "Sorry you are in a bad mood."  The statements left me confused, was I in the wrong for feeling hurt?  One day I was talking with a friend who received an apology that did not feel genuine, so we sat down and combed through it (it did help that it was a written apology).  We concluded that it did not feel genuine because the person did not take responsibility and did not offer restitution for the actions.  That begged the question: what are the ingredients of a true apology?

Which apology sounds genuine?

"I'm sorry if I offended you, but you were going on and on about it."

"I'm sorry my words offended you.  It was wrong of me to use such strong language.  I will refrain from cussing in front of you.  Please forgive me!"

Which statement leaves you feeling frustrated and which one leaves you feeling valued as an individual?  The first one offers the right beginning words, "I'm sorry" with a defensive explanation.  It is missing some important ingredients.  

Ingredients of a true apology:

  1. Say you are sorry (use the words “I am sorry”).  The caveat is to feel remorseful for your actions or the impact your actions had on others or the apology will be received as fake.
  2. Take responsibility for your wrong doing; leave out the excuses, as they seem defensive. 
  3. Offer a resolution for today or the future
  4. Ask for forgiveness.

Go! Write your apology and leave me a comment about the reaction you received.  

Photo by ja ma on Unsplash.