We all make mistakes. That means we all need to apologize at some point. But some people really suck at apologizing. They’ll say a lot without actually saying anything, they’ll fumble and stumble and have everyone wonder what they’re trying to communicate or they’ll joke around and treat it like a big joke.

I get it, apologizing isn’t easy. There’s humility involved and it invokes fears of being rejected, or laughed at. That means it’s tempting to beat around the bush or resort to any and all tactics to avoid this tension. But in the end, it doesn’t work.

When you messed up, you need to face the music. You need to apologize and here’s how to do it:

Keep it simple. Apologies don’t need to be long winded, just stick to two or three sentences. Be explicit about what you did wrong and when possible, state the consequences that you are aware of. Say something along the lines of: “I promised to send all parents an email with the packing list for the church camp and I forgot. I’m sorry, many kids forgot crucial items.”

Say you’re sorry. It’s a simple line that is so often omitted: I’m sorry. Don’t forget to say it, but even more important: don’t forget to mean it. If you’re not sorry, keep analyzing till you get to the core of the issue. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

Don’t make excuses. It’s tempting, I know, but the best apologies don’t contain long explanations or excuses. Even when you just want to explain, you’ll easily turn it into an excuse or people will interpret it as such. Don’t. Just admit you made a mistake and leave it at that.

Don’t be funny. Even if you’re a joker by nature, don’t try and be funny when apologizing. It will make you come across as insincere and even immature. An apology isn’t funny, except when you did something monumentally funny to begin with. But even then it’s best to let the others make the jokes at your expense 🙂