5 Kinds of False Apologies

How to not say sorry.

5 Kinds of False Apologies

Conflict is a natural part of life, and an apology is one of the best ways to soothe a situation gone awry. However, this isn’t always the case. If you find an apology just isn’t cutting it, you might benefit from this list of apologies that aren’t actually apologies at all.

  1. The Minimizing Apology

In this type of apology, someone may say sorry, but it is usually accompanied by a second argument that aims to minimise their action. “I was just/trying/actually…” are all ways someone can diffuse the negativity of a situation, all the while invalidating your feelings.

2. The Blame-Shifting Apology

We all know a certain ex-friend or partner whose preferred style of apologising was to get the ‘sorry’ part right, but not actually acknowledge their fault in the matter. “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you did…” is not an apology, but rather a statement of sympathy.

3. The Regretful Apology

“I regret that…” is another example of a statement, not an apology. Reflecting on the consequences of your behaviour is one thing, but it shouldn’t be used in replacement of an actual apology. Especially if this regret causes the accused to be comforted by the actual victim.

4. The Bargaining Apology

“I’ll apologise if…” Nope. Although a conflict can have issues on both sides of the argument, make sure when it’s your turn to apologise, you take full responsibility for your mistakes. Turning up the defence is only going to further drive a wedge between you and your friend/relative/partner.

5. The Takeaway Apology

‘But’ may be a great way to introduce a contrasting phrase or clause, but it should never appear in a genuine apology. Psychology Today contributor Dan Neuharth writes that these apologies seek to ‘avoid responsibility, make excuses, downplay what was done, invalidate, confuse, or move on prematurely’.

If you’d like to read some more false apologies, take a look at @psych_today’s post on Instagram, ’13 Kinds of False Apologies’.