How Apologies Miss The Mark If They Don't Honor Your Experience

Apologizing the right way is important.

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We’ve all done it. We speak quickly or carelessly, and before we realize it, your words have hurt someone.

And unfortunately, once harsh words are spoken — or written — they can’t be taken back. Sometimes, we regret our words, we apologize.

But a thoughtless apology can be worse than none by failing to honor your experience and lacking accountability.

But what are you apologizing for? And why do you regret your words?


Often, it’s because you regret the distance you’ve caused and apologize to recreate a sense of comfort and camaraderie. Humans can be self-centered and focused on their priorities.

At the same time, you have a deep need to connect with others. So, when your words or actions jeopardize a bond, you take action to recreate closeness.

You apologize for what you’ve said or done.

RELATED: How To Apologize Effectively & With Sincerity


Here are 10 ways to make sure your apologies are healing and honor everyone involved.

1. Be sincere in your apology.

A simple apology isn’t always enough, but an ineffective apology can be worse than none.

There are many examples of ineffective apologies, including the empty apology, the incomplete apology, the excessive, and the denial — which isn’t an apology at all.

Conditional apologies that begin with “I’m sorry if,” or “I’m sorry, but,” do nothing to express sincere regret, either.

An ineffective apology can do more harm than it can heal. Putting conditions on an apology further deflects responsibility and creates even more emotional distance.


2. Take responsibility for your actions.

A sincere apology takes into consideration the reason the other person hurts. And it includes taking responsibility for one’s words and actions.

It requires being accountable for oneself. In addition, it takes into consideration the other person.

3. Be respectful.

We all make mistakes. We do and say things we regret. It’s human. Owning up to those mistakes is responsibly human, as well.

For regrets to be genuinely received and repair relationships, those regrets need to be authentic.

They need to accomplish a minimum of two things: Accept responsibility and respect the other person.

3. Don't lie to yourself about your role in the circumstance.

Taking responsibility is as simple as following through on what you say. Having integrity means being consistent in your thoughts, words, and actions.


So, if you’ve let someone down — take responsibility.

Own your mistake. The truth is, you haven’t just let someone else down.

By not being consistent with yourself and following through on what you promised, you let yourself down. If you reflect and are honest, you may find that your biggest disappointment in the situation is with yourself.

4. Recognize that there's more to it than your perspective.

Relationships are more than the sum of two people. They are, at a minimum, yourself, the other person, and the combination of the two individuals.

The problem is, to build rapport in a relationship, you sometimes attempt to equalize experiences, rather than discover the differences. The result is that this undervalues both individuals.


RELATED: 4 Ways To Show Someone You've Really Changed

5. Acknowledge the other person's pain.

It’s a human need to be acknowledged — to be seen as who you are at a deep identity-level. Ignoring someone’s perspective is the equivalent of saying they don’t matter.

You draw your perspective from many aspects, including your experiences. They all combine to create who you are. And that identity is the core of your being.


Experiences are a patchwork of how you have spent your time. They reflect how you have invested your money, your heart, your intellect and your soul, as well as the people with whom you have expended your time and emotions.

To erase that unique intricacy of experience by leveling it, rather than acknowledging its differences, is to invalidate the depth of the effort and the richness of the landscape — and the person.

Intimacy isn’t achieved. And the relationship is distanced further.

6. Be open to discussing the hurt.

When people spend time in conversation, brain entrainment occurs, which is when brain waves synchronize as the words fall into sense and a rhythm is formed.


An electromagnetic resonance of heart patterning falls into sync, as well. This heart synchronization occurs between two individuals (or more).

These synchronizations — both brain and heart — are physical. And they occur automatically, although you can stimulate and develop their occurrence as a skill.

But you risk extending this physical resonance ability by intellectually and emotionally applying the same reasoning. Your brains, hearts, and bodies can bring you closer.

You as individuals need to have the intelligence and emotional maturity to practice discernment and respect individuation of personality. The closeness that is experienced via physical entrainment is not equally achieved through thinking.


7. Understand that everyone has different needs and wants.

It won’t always hold true that just because someone likes "XYZ," their friend will as well. It takes time to learn whether that is true. It takes forming a genuine relationship.

When someone expresses enthusiasm or joy for another’s success, it isn’t the same as wanting that for oneself. It can be, and often is, a genuine reaction of joy for that individual’s desires.

Extrapolating an interpretation that the same goal belongs to that individual undermines them as a unique individual.

8. Take the time to rebuild broken trust.

Listening is easy. And it is the way to open communication in a relationship — the kind that creates genuine connection, rather than fosters assumptions that undermine identity.


Not everyone feels the need to express their experiences. Many enjoy having lived their past and inhabiting the present.

But no one deserves to have their legacy erased and their identity undermined. Those past experiences are what compose your current reality.

9. Honor the other person's journey or experience.

No two life journeys are alike. To assume two people have walked the same path without learning the facts is to erase the individuality of a soul.


When you don’t take the time and care to learn those details, it gently but firmly broadcasts you aren’t important enough to be a priority for the other person.

10. Don't make the same mistake again.

Ready to rebuild that bond? Rebuild trust and strengthen the bond in a relationship by genuinely caring where you misstepped.

Take responsibility for your words, care how your words affected the other person, and make a genuine apology. This means making sure that you don't (accidentally or otherwise) continue doing the thing that brought someone pain before.

It's taking accountability for your actions, so you never have to make that same apology again if you can help it.


And while you’re taking care of others, take time to consider where and how you let yourself down. Rebuild trust in yourself by keeping your word to yourself.

Be the person you know yourself to be.

RELATED: If Someone's Apologies Start With Any Of These 12 Phrases, They're Not Being Sincere

Jan L. Bowen is a passionately authentic thought leader who helps people align their lives so they find more joy and greater connection through articulating and living their purpose. Jan is also the author of It's Not That Complicated: How to Create a Personalized Template of Alignment.