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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

How to say you're sorry -- not 'sorry, you misunderstood me ... '

Rayna Freedman, who teaches fifth grade in Massachusetts, teachers her students how to apologize, reports Kara Newhouse for KQED's MindShift. It's not enough to say, "I'm sorry." Students have to say what they're sorry for, why it was wrong, take responsibility, promise not to do it again and ask if there's something they can do to make it better.


They're also taught not to get by with weasel apologies: "I'm sorry you feel that way," "I'm sorry you misunderstood" or "Well, what about that time you . . . "



Many adults aren't good at apologizing, says Susan McCarthy, co-author of a new book titled Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies. She and co-author, Marjorie Ingall write SorryWatch, which analyzes apologies, writes Newhouse. It's "full of examples of bad apologies, such as actors who tweet 'I’m sorry if,' athletes who make excuses with their apologies, and corporations that issue apology statements without ever naming what happened."


They suggest adults model how to apologize to their children, refrain from post-apology scolding and never require kids to kiss or hug after an apology.


In their guidance for a good apology, they don't suggest asking for forgiveness, Freedman's sixth step. “We think forgiveness is a gift to be granted. And it’s rude to ask for a gift,” Ingall explained.

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6 Comments


Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Oct 23, 2023

"I'm sorry you feel that way" = "you're delusional". This is in no way an apology.

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Robert Diethrich
Robert Diethrich
Oct 22, 2023

I learned a good lesson in college theater one time, that the best apology for being late or various other causes is "I'm sorry it won't happen again!" Long drawn out explanations and excuses wastes both people's time.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Oct 22, 2023

Good to know. Since I'm never wrong, I've never considered how to apologize. But thanks to this article, I'm now prepared -- should such an unlikely instance ever occur. I'm sorry that those with opinions different than mine are always wrong. There -- I DID apologize!!

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Guest
Oct 24, 2023
Replying to

I'm sorry you feel that way.

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