Eliminate ‘If’ And ‘But’ For More Sincere Apologies

Eliminate ‘If’ And ‘But’ For More Sincere Apologies

The only thing worse than a missed apology is a fake one. But even when you don’t mean to, your friends may think a fake apology is exactly what you’re giving them.

Photo by butupa

Often, we quality our apologies with “if” and “but”. Lifehack.org notes this can make them sound insincere:

Here it is in two forms: “I’m sorry if you were hurt by X or Y” or “I’m sorry but you never told me Z.” The key words that make these examples insincere are “if” and “but.” These words shift responsibility from you to the person you are apologising to.

When you apologise, focus on accepting responsibility instead of thwarting it. Replace “I’m sorry if you were hurt by X or Y” with “I’m sorry for hurting you” to be more sincere to the people who are worth it.

For more tips on saying you’re sorry, check out the key components of an effective apology.

8 Mistakes That are Costing You Your Friendships [Lifehack]


  • I have massive problems with apologies. Seems like they really need to be customized for the recipient. Too elaborate, they’ll claim insincerity. Too perfunctory, they’ll claim it as reluctant or lacking in empathy. Try to include a note as to WHY you know this was bad, you may well just miss the mark, showing you don’t understand at all…

    If you’re going to use ‘but’, put the bad part first.
    “I still think I was right. It’s important to me, and I won’t back down on that. But… there are ways of saying and doing things, and I did them wrong. I hurt you and I’m sorry for that.”

    Some might call it an asshole’s apology, but caring about someone important to you shouldn’t mean letting them or yourself be wrong, or accepting the worldviews of whoever gets upset the most easily, just to keep the peace. Dishonesty is a lack of respect.

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