The holidays are upon us. So why not give a gift that really means something - apologize to someone you’ve hurt. It’s true, a timely apology is better than a late one – but there’s no statute of limitations. And showing regret for something you did can make a world of difference - to the other person and to your conscience. But according to Dr. Aaron Lazare, author of the book On Apology – you can’t give a “trash apology.” That’s what he calls something that sounds totally phony. Here are some phrases that fall into this category:

  • “If I did anything wrong, I’m sorry.”
  • “You can’t expect me to be perfect.”
  • And “I’m sorry you’re mad.”

These apologies don’t work because they’re patronizing. They suggest that the other person is thin-skinned, and they shouldn’t really be offended by what you did. And they show that you’re not willing to take responsibility for your actions. So, what’s the right way to say “I’m sorry”? Dr. Lazare says a full apology has 4 parts. Here they are.

  • Acknowledging and taking responsibility for your bad behavior.
  • Expressing sorrow for what you did.
  • Making an effort to repair the damage as much as possible. And.  
  • Assuring the person that it won’t happen again.

Also, if you follow your apology up with flowers, a small gift or any extra token of your appreciation, Dr. Lazare says that’s like super-sizing it. Wanna go further? The book again is called On Apology.