We are all human. We mess up, make mistakes, do silly things and hurt people by accident. It is easy to brush it off, or bow out of an apology with a few emoji-filled texts, but that won’t always suffice with the most important people in your life. Certain relationships are worth nourishing and taking care of, and being able to apologize when you’ve made a mistake is a really big part of that. So here are a few tips on how saying I’m sorry can improve your relationships.


When you’re in the heat of the moment – perhaps mid-argument – you won’t be able to see everything in your normal, rational way. You can say things you don’t mean and make problems even worse when you don’t get a chance to think it through. Spend some time going over what has happened, think about it from the other side and imagine how the other person is feeling.

To be able to know what you are saying sorry for, you need to be able to empathize, listen and take in what they are telling you. It is also a good opportunity to allow the situation to calm down a little more and bring the real problems to the fore without them being masked by petty remarks or insults.

Be present

A lot can get misconstrued in a message. They are completely open to the interpretation of the reader and if someone is already angry or upset with you, they are so much more likely to take something ambiguous in a negative way. Plus it’s much less personal. A text can go unseen, be ignored, deleted or even forgotten about – there’s no guarantee that your message will be received and it may not leave you satisfied that the problem has been dealt with.

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If that relationship matters enough for you to need to know how to say sorry, then show up for it. A face to face interaction, or even a voice over the phone is a lot more vital and valuable when it really counts. It’ll send a much stronger message, and you’ll be able to talk the problem out right there and then, instead of reaching a solution in fifty messages time.

Stop defending yourself

You know what takes all of the impact out of an apology? Trying to explain why it actually wasn’t your fault. There are a million if and buts that can come into a situation, and perhaps you have some good arguments, but sometimes you just need to hold your hands up and take responsibility.

This can be really tough, but it will mean a lot more to the person on the other end if you can just accept that you messed up without adding extra excuses. What’s more, knowing how to say sorry will give you a strong grounding to make your relationship really solid in the future.

Say the actual words

Learning how to say sorry properly starts with actually saying “I’m sorry”. Regretting something happened or proclaiming what a shame it was isn’t an apology, and although they may seem like difficult words to say, it will be a lot harder to cover over the issue with different excuses. It is easy to underestimate the power of those two little words to someone that really needs to hear them, but making the step to apologize can make a big impact.

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Relationships are built on trust and understanding, so the other person needs to know that you take that seriously and can judge when their feelings need to come first. So take a deep breath and say it.

Learn from it

So you messed up. It doesn’t have to be the end of everything or be held against you forever. No relationships have to burn in a pit of anger. Take a minute to actually work out what went wrong, talk about it together and look for a solution or compromise.

Find out where boundaries lie, accept that you know what irks that person now, and aim not to do it again. This is a sure fire way to learn more about each other and really get to the point where you can have a reasonable conversation about it, without arguments or fighting.

A mistake doesn’t always have to mean you don’t spend time with someone anymore, but it’s just as important not to pretend something hasn’t happened and to own up when it goes wrong. When you put extra effort into it, you will find it can bring you closer together. This is why knowing how to say sorry when you most need to will be a vital way to maintain a connection with someone who is really important to you.