An apology is one of the most profound interactions two human beings can have with one another.
Research by Lazare and others suggests effective apologies—meaning those that are accepted by an offended party—all tend to share a set of underlying features.
When people make the common mistake of saying they’re sorry too quickly, they can miss a crucial step towards reconciliation.
If someone commits a serious transgression, it’s best to apologize only after the victim has had a chance to “yell and vent” and fully process the betrayal.
Apologies that come too late, like those that come too early, are likely to fail; the sweet spot is somewhere between the two.
You should be more focused on the other person, making sure they really believe that you get what you did wrong. Without that emphasis on the other person’s emotional state—and the promise of change—an apology sounds insincere.
Apologies also have a law of diminishing returns, and overdoing it can make each individual apology feel less sincere.
If you apologize too frequently to someone, it becomes background noise.
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