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How to say sorry: 6 steps to the best apology

Not all apologies are equal.

We all screw up sometimes. But when we hurt a friend, family member or colleague, how we apologize can make all the difference. 

Fortunately, science has figured out the best way to say “I’m sorry.”

Roy Lewicki, a management and human resources researcher at Ohio State, led a study that found six components to an effective apology. They're all important, but if you’re short on time, the first two are key to helping you repair your relationship.

1. Acknowledge you were wrong.

2. Offer to fix the problem.

3. Express regret.

4. Explain what went wrong.

5. Repent for the wrongdoing.

6. Request forgiveness.


“One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap,” Lewicki said. 'But by saying, ‘I’ll fix what is wrong,’ you’re committing to take action to undo the damage."