Anyway, sorry for digressing. (See how easy that was?) The thing I read online says that there are three parts to a "real, effective apology":
- Acknowledge how your action has affected the person. For many first-time apologizers, this means not focusing on yourself, and that can be hard. Let's say you were supposed to bring the deviled eggs to the community picnic, and you totally forgot to buy both the eggs and the devilment, so you show up without them, and everyone is grinding cold chicken and potato salad and rolls and they really want a deviled egg and there are none to be had. A poor apology would start off, "Well I was so busy last night and the cable went out and Jimbo stopped by and I was all out of mayonnaise..." while a good one would sound like, "I blew it. I committed to bringing deviled eggs today and I did not do that and people are disappointed..."
- Say you're sorry. I know a lot of people who have never uttered the phrases "I was wrong" or "I'm sorry." Everyone is wrong now and then and everyone OUGHT to be sorry now and then, but some people can never get those words out. Perhaps it's because they don't feel that way. So, back to the deviled eggs, a nice "I'm sorry, everyone! I really feel bad about it" will do fine. Note: this should really suffice, unless what you're apologizing for is so monumental as to require something along the lines of a human sacrifice. I think it goes too far when people carry on and on about how deeply sorry they really truly are.
- The third thing is to describe how you're going to make it right or at least make sure it won't happen again, so in our example, the thing to say would be, "I know we'll have another picnic soon, and if you give me another chance to take care of the deviled eggs, you'll see I mean it when I promise to do better."
I'm not sorry for not liking deviled eggs in the first place, though.