The Importance of Apologizing – and Meaning It

“I’m sorry”. It’s a phrase that is difficult for some to utter. It is also a phrase thrown around often by others, sometimes without any meaning behind it. You may say that you’re sorry as a habit when you’ve made someone feel a negative emotion. 

From a very young age, we were taught that ‘sorry” is a “magic word” along with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Unfortunately, many people do not realize the importance of apologizing and how much weight the word holds. 

A Genuine Apology 

A genuine apology isn’t as simple as thoughtlessly voicing the two words. It’s common for saying the words ‘I’m sorry’ to become a habit to ease tension in an uncomfortable situation, but the importance of apologizing involves much more than that. Apologizing is great when your intent is to own up to your mistakes and make a change. A genuine apology involves:


To truly feel a connection when you apologize, it’s necessary to take time to reflect on the situation. Overtime, practicing self-reflection will enhance your insight and increase how attuned you are to others.

The ability to admit that we’re wrong

Admitting that we did or said something hurtful to someone else is not always easy. It takes maturity to allow our ego to take a backseat. We’re human, and mistakes happen, but it’s important to take accountability for our actions. 

Vulnerability to feel empathy for the other person/people involved

It’s not always necessary to fully agree that a scenario is your fault. It’s extremely important to be able to recognize that something that you did or said may have come across hurtful to someone else, even if it wasn’t intentional. Many times, to obtain forgiveness requires to let the other person know that you hear them and empathize with their feelings. 

Benefits to Genuinely Apologizing 

Learning about the importance of apologizing comes with several benefits. Here are a few:

Repair Connections 

In tense situations, it’s common for both parties to want to be right, making it easy for pride to take over. Genuinely apologizing shows others that you are willing to take responsibility of your actions and prioritize the relationship over always being in the right. Learning to do this is extremely important in creating lasting, meaningful connections

Active Listening Skills

When someone is explaining to you why something that you did was hurtful to them, it’s easy to ignore what they’re saying and directly jump into defense mode to rationalize your behavior. Allowing the other person to speak and allowing yourself to absorb what they’re saying before reacting is great practice to enhance your active listening skills.

Clear Conscience 

Conflicts generate a lot of stress and emotions internally that can negatively impact us long-term. Learning to apologize helps to clear any feelings of guilt or shame and remove the block created by conflict. This allows you to move forward from the situation.  

Steps to Apologizing and Meaning it

Knowing the importance of apologizing and putting it into action are not synonymous. Just because you’re aware of what needs to be done, doesn’t always make it easy to do. Here are five steps that you can take to put your genuine apology into action.

Step 1: Recognize What You Did Wrong

An apology doesn’t mean much when you’re only trying to get out of trouble or ease the tension. Apologizing for the sole reason of achieving a quick fix isn’t likely going to work, which is why you must actually recognize what exactly you did to cause the other person negative emotions. It’s important to understand that forgiveness is not always a fast process, and your apology doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be forgiveness at all. 

Step 2: Listen

An apology isn’t a one-sided conversation. To understand how they were impacted by your actions; you must listen to allow them to express their feelings and learn their perspective of the situation. 

Step 3: Don’t Delay

It’s important to apologize as quickly as you can when you realize that you’ve offended someone else. Delaying an apology to avoid awkwardness can only further the damage that already exists. Take time to reflect on the situation, but don’t put off an apology any longer than you have to. 

Step 4: Take Ownership

Voicing the fact that you recognize where you went wrong does wonders in increasing your odds of receiving forgiveness after you’ve apologized. Taking ownership in an apology shows that you aren’t attempting to place the blame elsewhere.

Step 5: Correct Your Behavior 

Apologizing for something that you’ve done means absolutely nothing when you continue to repeat the same behavior time and time again. Take the incident as a lesson and strive to take steps to correct your behavior to lessen the chance of making the same mistake twice. 

It’s inevitable that something that you do will cause a negative emotion for someone else at least a few times in your life, but the way that you handle an apology shows a lot about who you are as a person.

If you’re ready to begin taking steps towards learning to apologize genuinely or learn more about the importance of apologizing, reach out to me through my website.