What's the best apology you received

Psychology: how to apologize properly

It is easy to apologize if you accidentally spilled coffee on your colleague's shirt or stepped on the foot of the man next to you in the subway.

But the worse it is, your own offense, the harder it is to get the right words out of your mouth. Because when something has gone really wrong, a simple “I'm sorry” is not enough, everyone knows that. But then how do you apologize properly?

Scientists at Ohio State University have now investigated what makes a good excuse - one that is more likely to lead to forgiveness.

The researchers analyzed six components that an excuse can have in two different studies with more than 700 participants.

Take full responsibility

Apologizing is only one of the six components. The second is to explain what exactly went wrong from your own point of view, the third to declare yourself fully responsible for it.

The fourth component is to express one's repentance - that is, to explain that and why one would act differently now, one could turn back the time. The fifth component is the sincere offer to repair the damage, the sixth and last, asking for forgiveness.

Basically, according to the results of the study, the more of these elements an apology contains, the better, as the authors write in the specialist journal "Negotiation and Conflict Management Research". However, there are components that are more important than others.

Offer or ask for reparation

According to the head of the study, Roy Lewicki, the most important component in the laboratory tests was the declaration of responsibility. Those who take full responsibility for their actions are more likely to be forgiven.

The second most important component was to offer or ask for possible redress. In itself, asking for forgiveness was not very effective. You can almost save yourself that if everything else is missing, according to the authors.

The study authors also tested in their experiments whether it made a difference to forgiveness whether the offense was committed intentionally or unknowingly. In this case it was an imaginary major tax fraud that had been exposed.