learn to apologizeApologizing isn’t an easy thing to do.

If you’ve never been taught how to apologize, it makes the task even harder. Sometimes simply saying, “I’m sorry” doesn’t adequately communicate your regret for having done something that was hurtful.

Five ways to Apologize

When you’ve done something you shouldn’t, here are the top 5 ways to apologize:

1. Express regret by saying:
“I’m sorry for…” Be specific in expressing yourself. What are you sorry for? This isn’t merely a way to say you’re sorry that you got caught, but rather that you’re sorry you hurt another person.

* Perhaps your intent wasn’t even to hurt someone, but it happened anyway, and expressing your regret can ease the hurt.

2. Accept responsibility by saying:
“I was wrong.” It’s important to accept responsibility for what you’ve done. If you can’t take responsibility, it will be hard for people to forgive you.

* Don’t try to shove the blame off on someone else; admit that you’re the guilty party and tell the person what you did was wrong.

3. Make amends by asking:
“What can I do to fix this?” After you’ve expressed regret and accepted responsibility, it’s important that you do what you can to make amends.

* If you want to re-establish trust with the person you’ve hurt, making restitution is vital.

4. Express genuine repentance by promising:
“I’ll do my best to never do this again.” You may regret having done what you did, and that’s good. However, it’s crucial that you don’t repeat the offense again in the future.

* The old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” It’s harder to forgive someone who’s done the same thing for a second time.

5. Request forgiveness by asking:
“Will you please forgive me?” Be sure to ask the person you’ve offended to forgive you.

* Neither of you will be able to let this go, put it in the past, and move forward if there isn’t true forgiveness on the one part and true repentance on the other.

If you follow these steps, does that mean the person you’ve hurt will always forgive you? There’s no guarantee, and depending on what caused the pain, it may take them a little while to get to the point of forgiveness.

However, your chances of forgiveness when you give a sincere apology are much greater than if you merely gloss over it with an  “I’m sorry.”  Part of the reason your apology may not be accepted is because of the way it’s given. If you tell them, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but…” it’s a pretty good bet they’re thinking the apology may not have been heartfelt. There’s no wonder they may not be so quick to forgive you.

When your apology isn’t sincere, there may be forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean the relationship has been restored the way you hoped it would be. What if you don’t feel like what you’ve done requires an apology? Why should you offer one if what you did wasn’t wrong? Well, if a person perceives it as being wrong, you may still want to offer a sincere apology for how they’re feeling.

* This will help you reconnect with someone who’s important to you and strengthen the trust between you, which is always a good thing for your relationship.

Learning these top 5 ways to apologize will give you an important skill you can use to improve your relationships.

Use them sincerely and enjoy the benefits!