How to say ‘I’m sorry’ without being embarrassed or feeling foolish!

Have you ever had the best of intentions, but upset someone anyway?

Have you ever been under pressure and reacted poorly and upset someone?

Have you ever had bad intentions towards someone which reflected in your behaviour and then, once you witnessed the impact on the other, you regretted your actions?

Or is it just me?

Our histories are filled with experiences, both good and bad, honourable and shameful. And our futures will be filled with even more such experiences. 

Despite not always acting in the ideal way, we still want to feel like we are good people. And we are. We are good people who periodically behave in not-so-good ways. 

When we discover that our actions have caused upset, a common reaction is to become defensive and justify what we did. We fear that admitting fault is an indication that our character is faulty. We did something bad, so we must be a bad person. Taking responsibility becomes a threat to our identity and self-esteem.  

Admitting fault also opens the door to feelings of guilt, an emotion most of us avoid.

There are two words that go a long way to mend the negative impact of our transgressions: “I’m sorry.”

Mastering the art of apologising is important for all of your relationships, both personal and professional. Apologising has the power to magically repair harm and mend relationships. 

It is useful to understand that our aversion to apologising is usually driven by our subconscious mind. It is our subconscious mind that holds our deep memories, learned behaviours, beliefs, emotions and experiences. Think back and remember apologies you witnessed as a child. Did you ever see your parents apologise? Your teachers? Your school buddies?


Apologising is a behavioural skill just like becoming a good trainer or effective communicator. It doesn’t come naturally, so to be successful at it, you need to learn how to do it well. 



Even though it may not have been your intention, acknowledge that your actions have caused upset. Say to the person “I want to apologise for (my actions). I can see that my behaviour upset you.” “I feel embarrassed that I behaved in this way.” “I feel terrible that my actions caused you to be upset.”


Take full responsibility for your actions. Resist the urge to give excuses. “I did (action).” “I said (statement).” “I reacted poorly.”


Remedying the situation is making amends. This is key to rebuilding trust. “I am going to be more mindful of my behaviour towards you in the future.” “I will be more encouraging of your performance.” “I will rectify the situation immediately.”

Apologising as soon as possible after the event will avoid the festering of negative feelings.

The quality of your relationships is in direct proportion to the level of your self-awareness. Understand more deeply how your subconscious mind makes it difficult to say sorry. Practise the art of apologising and you will see your relationships deepen to a whole new level.