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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.