I recently sent off an apology note to someone I wronged four years ago and had lost contact with. I very rarely apologize, but I am not afraid to issue an apology where it is warranted. Here are some tips for apologies.

1) Ensure you actually have something to apologize for. What matters here is whether or not you have wronged someone, not whether or not they were offended. Many people make the mistake of offering worthless apologies for non-wrongs, simply because someone got offended. Don’t fall for that shit.

2) Frankly state the wrong you committed. Don’t try to rationalize it, excuse it, or draw another person into it. Simply state “I did x to you.”

3) Don’t say “I’m sorry.” Instead say “I apologize,” or “please accept my apology.”

4) Keep it short. It’s not a damn novel.

5) Don’t have ulterior motives. You are apologizing because you wronged someone and you take responsibility for your own actions, not because you are trying to make someone like you or gain some kind of reward.

6) Don’t ask for forgiveness. If they want to forgive you, they will. You are not asking for anything. Rather, you are simply taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging that you wronged someone. If they choose not to forgive you, that’s their problem.

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