We hear apologies every day, whether they come from ourselves or others. How many of these apologies are actually sincere, and how can we tell?
Ever receive an apology from someone yet feel that they weren't sorry? You were probably right, says Jodi R.R. Smith, author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman. "People will make obligatory apologies in which they don't take responsibility for their actions," she explains. "But if you say, 'It doesn't sound like you're sorry at all,' your relationship will be strained — it may even end," Smith says. "Is calling them on their lousy apology worth that?" Instead, if you receive one of the following apology impostors, reply, "Thank you for saying something" or "I forgive you."
1. "I'm sorry if I upset you."
Translation: I'm not really sorry for what I did. In fact, I don't see any reason I shouldn't do it again. I'm just apologizing because you seem to have gotten yourself all worked up about it.
2. "I'm sorry for what I did, but..."
Example: "I'm sorry I got a spot on your shirt that I borrowed, but you didn't tell me it would be hard to clean. Plus, the restaurant was dark, and I couldn't see that sauce was streaming off my fork onto it."
Translation: I'm full of excuses, all of which absolve me of blame. The mistake is half your fault and half due to circumstances beyond my control.
3. "I know you'll forgive me because you're a reasonable person and we all make mistakes."
Translation: I'm not really guilty of anything except being human, so stop looking so cross—unless you're an unreasonable cretin.