What would you do in the following scenarios?
Your teacher scolds you for misbehaving during class.
Should you apologize to your teacher—even if you think that he was overreacting?
A friend finds out that you made an insulting remark about her.
Should you apologize to your friend—even if you believe that your remark was justified?
You lose your cool with your dad and talk back to him.
Should you apologize to your dad—even if you feel that he provoked you?
The answer to all three questions is yes. But why say “I’m sorry,” even if you feel that you weren’t entirely in the wrong?
Apologizing shows maturity. When you take responsibility for something you said or did, you indicate that you are developing essential qualities that you will need in adulthood.
“Humility and patience can help us to apologize and then listen to what the other person has to say.”—Rachel.
Apologizing allows you to make amends. People who say “I’m sorry” show that they are more concerned about making peace than about proving themselves right and proving the other person wrong.
“Even if you don’t think you are at fault, making peace should be the priority. It doesn’t cost anything to say ‘I’m sorry,’ but it can restore a friendship.”—Miriam.
Apologizing helps you feel better. Regret over hurting someone by word or action is a heavy load to carry. Once you apologize, though, that burden is lifted off your shoulders. a
“There were times when I spoke rashly to my mom or dad. I felt bad, but I found it hard to apologize. When I did, though, I always felt better because it restored the peace in the family.”—Nia.
Does apologizing take effort? Yes! Dena, a young woman who has had to apologize more than once for being rude to her mom, admits: “It’s not easy to say ‘I’m sorry.’ It feels like there’s a lump in my throat and no words can come out!”
How to say “I’m sorry”
If possible, apologize in person. A face-to-face apology allows the other person to see the genuineness of your remorse. Text apologies, by comparison, may fall flat. Even when accompanied by a sad-faced emoji, they can seem impersonal and insincere.
Tip: If you can’t apologize in person, consider calling on the phone or writing a card. Whichever method you choose, plan your words carefully.
Bible principle: “The heart of the righteous one meditates before answering.”—Proverbs 15:28.
Apologize promptly. The longer an issue remains unresolved, the more serious the wrong will seem and the more awkward things will be between you and the person you hurt.
Tip: Set a goal—for example, ‘I will apologize today.’ Determine what time limit is most practical; then keep your resolve.
Bible principle: “Be quick to settle matters.”—Matthew 5:25.
Apologize sincerely. Saying “I’m sorry that you feel that way” is not an apology! “The person who was wronged will usually respect you if he sees that you take full responsibility for what you did,” says a young woman named Janelle.
Tip: Make the apology unconditional. Don’t say, in effect, “I’ll apologize for my part of the problem if you’ll apologize for your part.”
Bible principle: “Let us pursue the things making for peace.”—Romans 14:19.
a If you lost or damaged someone’s property, it would be wise to back up your apology with some kind of compensation.