Two little words make all the difference in this world. Those same two words can excuse both the smallest and largest mistakes. They can turn a night around. They can turn friends into best friends and the lack thereof can turn acquaintances into enemies. "I'm sorry" has a lot of power, but using the phrase is not always as easy as it should be. There are different levels of apology and different depths of sincerity. We all know we should just say those two words and actually mean them, but it rarely goes down like that. Avoid these five common mistakes when apologizing to make your life better and your apologies more meaningful.
If you feel the need to say sorry then just say it. Don't say things like, "Would it help if I apologized for that?" That statement makes it abundantly clear you don't feel any remorse for the thing you just apologized for. Admit to yourself you made a mistake, and then admit to whoever else that you made a mistake. Apologize flat out, no questions asked.
2. No "buts"
Adding a but after an apology completely nullifies the apology. Don't apologize and, in the same breath, try to excuse the behavior you needed to apologize for. Even if you feel like your behavior was justified, trying to shift part of the blame onto the offended party will only offend further. If you really feel you have no need to apologize, then don't. Instead, try to talk about it and figure out where the offense lies. Don't apologize just to apologize and when you finally do, don't try to pass the blame.
3. Don't apologize until you actually mean it
Don't say sorry just to appease an angry relative or friend. That will make you hostile, and they will be able to tell you don't really mean it. Instead, take a minute to examine your part in the disagreement. Find the fault with yourself (from the other person's point of view), and then apologize for making them feel bad.
4. Don't apologize repeatedly for the same thing
Apologize once and then don't do that thing again. Once you sincerely apologize for the same thing three times, all future apologies automatically become insincere. Even if the apology is, once again, sincere the person on the receiving end will have a hard time believing you actually want to change. A big part of apologizing is following it up with a change in behavior, so don't make a habit of continually needing to apologize for the same things.
It is hard to swallow your pride and apologize when you feel like they don't know the full story. But likely, they don't care about the full story; they only care about a sincere apology. Instead of blaming your offense on the fact that you had terrible week or something bad that happened to you, take responsibility for the offense, appease your loved one by apologizing and then bring up the fact that you had a hard week and ask to talk about it. They will be much more open and accepting to talk about you and fulfill some of your needs after a simple "I'm sorry."
Hopefully you aren't guilty of any of these offenses, but if you are, now is your time to apologize and move on. Remember, don't make it about you, don't make the same mistake twice, mean what you say, don't follow it up with "but" and don't question the apology.