I have noticed that if someone says they are sorry, it doesn’t feel complete to me unless they also include something about how they will try harder, or some other way to avoid making the same mistake again. I am curious if I am alone in this.

Poll to follow.

Weird. I was going to start a poll on apoligies myself.

In your instance, I’d say sorry is enough for me. Demanding they explain how they will refrain from doing it again seems a little patronizing.

I do however like it when one tells me why they did what they did:

“Hey, sorry I called you an asshole yesterday.” (I accept this apology but, meh.)

“Hey sorry I called you an asshole yesterday. It was a stressful day and I had a splitting headache. I just snapped.”

To me this is much better. It gives me something to relate to. The former, I have to wonder: “Am I really that annoying? or was it something else?”

I agree.

“I’m sorry.” all by itself doesn’t mean jack to me. Combine it with an explanation of what was does wrong, how they’re going to stop it from happening again and all manner of related things, then we get an apology that I’ll accept.

As long as it’s sincere then I don’t need anything else. It does sort of depend on the level of the transgression though.

“Sorry” is good enough for me.

My wife is the opposite way: a simple “sorry” will just make her even more upset!



Uh, well, it depends, what did they do? If it’s the sort of mistake everyone makes, I’d rather they just apologised promptly and didn’t make a big deal out of it. Like, if a friend is always late, I don’t care why they were late this time, they can either fix their timekeeping or not, and they probably can’t, so I’d rather they didn’t try to pretend unless there’s something specific they can do.

If it’s something personal that’s likely to happen again, I’d rather actually understand what happened.

Good point about small things. No, if you are late, I don’t need to hear how you will leave on time next time. The examples I was thinking of are much bigger things, like forgetting to do something important that was your responsibility, or making a big error through carelessness.

It’s kind of tricky because if you explain yourself then that can be taken as making excuses too.

But anyway, the one that makes me want to punch the person out is when they apologize in advance for something they haven’t done yet and could still choose not to do.

It depends on the transgression and on the tone in which the apology was uttered.

It depends on the offense and the person. My mom has apologized to me exactly one time in my entire life, and it took me aback so much I almost choked on my own saliva. From a partner, though, it has to be accompanied by a desire to change. If I get apologies for the same bullshit more than once or twice, at that point it’s become a habit. And it’s up to me to say, cut the shit or this relationship is over.

I prefer to do that, but I find that some people think explaining an apology is giving an excuse.

As for the OP’s question: not unless I have a reason to think they might do it again. Usually this means they’ve made the same mistake more than once.

EDIT: It does help online, though, where you can’t really hear tone of voice. All apologies need to be said in a way that sounds like you’re sorry. Using self-deprecation as a substitute can only go so far online.

If it’s more than a minor thing I want to hear more than just the word sorry. I’d like to know the person is sincere, and they’re apologizing for what they’ve done, not just mouthing the words. But my acceptance can’t be based on on some bonus feature for the future. They have to be sorry, they have to make me understand they’re sorry, but they’re not oblgated further than that.

This is what a friend of mine calls a “plan of correction” apology. It infuriated her that her boyfriend demanded that sort of apology from everyone in his life, including her. It’s not exaggerating much to say that if a waitress slopped a little soup on the table, he would want his meal comped and the waitress staked out on a anthill. He had no problem confronting friends and relatives in public places when they didn’t meet his standards. Her friends were all glad to see the last of him, finally.

Speaking as a guy who has had to apologize a few times, an apology has four parts:

  1. Say what you did that was wrong and why you did it.
  2. Say what you should have done instead and why you didn’t.
  3. Say what you’re going to do to fix it or make things right or avoid this situation in the future.
  4. Say you’re sorry, now that I know why you’re sorry and that you mean it.

If somebody’s not willing to go through the steps, they’re not sorry and I’m not ready to hear them say it.

Oh, and? Anybody who says “Hey, if I offended you, I’m sorry”? Gets a punch in the mouth.

Pretty much exactly what Ethilrist wrote with the added note that I’ve gotten too many apologies from people that were basically “I’m not sorry, I don’t care, but I’m uncomfortable that you’re angry with me, so I’ll make a polite noise and expect you to let it go.” There are a lot of people out there who really don’t get that an apology is less about saying you’re sorry than it is about taking responsibility for your actions and their consequences.

Steps 1 and 4 are fine. Steps 2 and 3 are asking for penance, which is something entirely different than an apology. You don’t have to explain why you did something, and you don’t have to address avoiding the situation in the future. Making things right is due, but is not part of an apology.

An apology has to communicate an admission of a specified wrongdoing, You let the wronged person know you are sorry, that you are sorry for the specific wrong committed. If you demand groveling, you have something to apologize for.

they have to tell me SPECIFICALLY, WHAT they are sorry for doing.

Etv78, I am with you on the what. My fiancé will say " I am sorry" but when I ask what he is sorry about, he usually says he doesn’t know. He is just trying to stop the argument, so that we can have it again later, when he does the same damn thing again. :slight_smile:

That part shouldn’t really be necessary in an apology, but human nature being what it is, without the specifics, it may not be an apology at all.

It isn’t necessarily bad, as in your case, he may truly be sorry that he did something, but if he doesn’t know what it was that caused the problem, he’s not really sorry, just having wishful regrets. The other side of the coin drives me nuts, the “I’m sorry you feel that way apology” which is absolutely not an apology at all.

I think an apology has to include an admission of responsibility, and an expression of regret. In order to admit responsiblity, it has to be clear what one is sorry about. So if someone steps on your toe, a simple ‘sorry’ should suffice since it’s clear what it’s about. But when feelings are hurt, the specifics become important.