Here are the steps toward an effective, heartfelt, and healing apology:
When you say you are sorry be sure to state what you are sorry for. In other words confess to what you did. Sorry without the confession is empty.
Do not offer an excuse. Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t say, “but!” If you are wishing to apologize don’t try to explain your actions away.
Acknowledge that your actions were hurtful. Speak a little about the pain you have caused the other person.
Explain what the relationship means to you and why you want to restore it.
Offer to repair things. Ask how you can make it up to the person. Attempt to make an amends even if you are told it is not necessary. It is necessary for their healing and yours.
Promise that you won’t do it again. And mean it! You don’t have to explain your plan of how you will keep this promise, but have one. Never do it again.
Ask directly for forgiveness. “Can you forgive me?”
A true apology is made face-to-face. This is not the time for phone calls, texting, and social media. You should be looking into the eyes of the person you hurt. This is being sincere and taking responsibility.
Don’t let another day go by. Apologize for the things you have done. Even if that means opening that can of worms again, because the wounds need to be healed. Put your pride aside. Be brave.