Being able to say you’re sorry is a valuable skill and doing it well is an art. The words you use, your tone and demeanor can tell someone whether or not you’re being genuine. And that’s especially true when you’re talking to your significant other, who probably knows you better than anyone. So you really want to nail that apology to your partner and that means never saying these five words: “I’m sorry you were offended.”
Etiquette expert Jodi Smith suggests taking that phrase out of your vocabulary. Telling your sweetie, “I’m sorry you were offended” basically translates to blaming the victim, which is the last thing you want to do. “It’s just so horrific to do something wrong and then to fail to acknowledge that you’ve hurt or upset somebody,” Smith explains.
So what IS the right way to apologize? Here’s what the experts recommend:
- Don’t make excuses – This means not using language that cancels out a genuine apology, like saying, “I’m sorry I said that, but you caused me to react like that.” Etiquette expert Myka Meier advises taking out the word “but” because it “discredits what was just said previously.” Instead go for a simple, “I’m sorry I said that. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.”
- Take responsibility for your actions – Show you understand that you did something wrong and don’t deflect blame. Pointing fingers won’t help, but swallowing your pride and acknowledging your mistake will.
- Be sincere – This is a big one because it’s easy to tell when someone doesn’t mean what they say. So own the hurt you’ve caused, even if it wasn’t intentional. You could even take the apology one step further by adding the steps you’re taking to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. At the end of the day, you want to be forgiven, especially by the person you love most.
- Anything’s better than “My bad,” but some people definitely have room for improvement!