Not all apologies are equal.
To understand giving and receiving different types of apologies, you must understand the difference between an excuse and reason.
An excuse suggests the person does not take responsibility for their actions. Although there is a cause and effect relationship that may be out of your control, a reason requires you acknowledge this and take responsibility for your actions. While genuine apologies may contain an excuse or two, they generally involve accepting reason over excuse.
A sincere apology requires a couple of things from the person giving it.
1. Despite how the apology is received, the integrity of the sentiment should remain.
2. A true apology demands remorse and thoughtful reflection,
3. and a desire to at least try change behavior.
A shallow apology only requires one word:
A fake apology can look like this, or it can be something along the lines of "I'm sorry you think you deserve an apology" or "I'm sorry for breaking your vase but you put it in the wrong place." Both these apologies are structured syntactically to remove the speaker from the equation and shirk responsibility for any damage. The specific use of the word "but" all but negates the sentiment because it qualifies the apology on the aggressor's terms. If it feels hostile, it probably isn't a genuine apology. In these apologies, a power dynamic disparity is evident.
No one is right all the time, and it takes courage to admit you are wrong and willing to learn from it. Apologies create bridges and chains, they can mend relationships and open doors. Sincere apologies are powerful ways to negotiate interpersonal identities and relationships. Real apologies show that you are capable of humility, change, and compassion.Lacking a sincere apology can show the opposite. Fake apologies can burn bridges, break friendships, and shut doors so hard and so fast your own fingers are slammed inside.
This can look like:
1. "I'm sorry, but/if..."
The "but" or "" dilemma creates conditions to an apology where there shouldn't be any. The word but can open a jar of worms that can gaslight the apology into an accusation or criticism.
2. "I already said I was sorry!"
This ignores that your first apology or approach to it may not have been sincere or effective.
3. "I'm sorry that you think I hurt your feelings."
Can this apology sound more condescending?
4: "Its sucks that... I regret that that happened..."
This isn't even an apology, but said in a sympathetic voice it can seem like one.
The fundamental difference between real and superficial apologies is that a real apology has an objective: to express the desire to alleviate the other person sufferings.