Everyone makes mistakes and needs to apologize from time to time. But do you ever feel like you actually make things worse when you say sorry? If so, you might be committing one of these apology faux-pas.


1. Provide No Explanation

Just tossing the word "sorry" into a conversation and immediately moving on to another topic can prove hurtful too. When you don't explain why you're sorry, you gloss over the other person's feelings and fail to take responsibility for your words or actions. 

While saying "I am sorry" represents an important step in an apology, you need to follow it up with some explanation to preserve the other person's trust and respect. Acknowledge what you did wrong, how you made them feel, and/or why you acted out of character. 

For example, you could say, "I am sorry I snapped at you. I was feeling really stressed about an overdue project. I should not have taken it out on you."


2. Using the Word "But"

Never allow the word "but" to weasel into your apology. It is a defensive word in this context and will always undermine an apology. 

For example, avoid saying something like, "I am sorry for what I said, but you made me so mad," or, "I am sorry for acting that way, but I still think you shouldn't have said that." 

Instead of taking ownership of your actions, you shift the blame toward someone else by saying "but." You are in full control of how you react to the world, so your behavior is never anyone else's fault. Take full responsibility with a sincere apology.


3. Avoid the Other Person Altogether

Problems don't magically go away on their own. If you owe someone an apology and choose to avoid them instead of face the situation head-on, you will only compound the issue. Tension will build between you, and you'll likely lose the other person's respect.

Admitting your mistakes takes courage. You'll probably feel awkward and maybe a little vulnerable during the process. However, when the conversation is over, you'll feel much better -- and so will the other person. Avoiding the other person for days ultimately feels worse than the momentary awkwardness of actually saying sorry.


4. Fish for a Compliment

You should express remorse when apologizing, but try not to go overboard. You don't want to make the other person feel like they have to console you or cheer you up. You made a mistake and hurt someone else, so you actually need to focus more on their feelings during this time.

For example, avoid saying something like, "I am sorry. I messed up so badly. I know you probably don't want to work with me anymore. I always do this! This is why no one likes me!" 

If you need to apologize, learn to do it well. Avoiding these major gaffes can help ensure your apology hits the mark and repairs your relationship.