How to Say You Are Sorry.




About: "Black socks and Birkenstocks do not maketh the geek. I would argue that the essence of geekitude comes from within. To the true geek, it's not enough that things work. He or she must know how things work. A...

We have all been there, we said or did something stupid, maybe that we wish we hadn’t, and it hurt someone.  This ‘ilbe is the beginning steps to making things right.

Note, this is just a guide, it is not 100% comprehensive and I encourage people to add their own suggestions and comments about what works for them.  Each situation is different and this is just a starting place for a discussion.


Step 1: Step One. Do Something Wrong. (This Is NOT an Instruction)

Before you can say you are sorry, you need to make a mistake.  This step normally doesn’t require any effort.  We all make mistakes every day.  So just wait, and this step with happen soon enough.

Step 2: Step Two, 'Nut Up'

This isn’t a time to be politically correct.  If you did something wrong, your first step to making it right is to admit to yourself that you made a mistake.  Do not sugar coat it.  Be honest with yourself.  We all make mistakes; use it as a learning experience.

Step 3: Step Three, Evaluate the Damage

Now you need to figure out what the cost of your mistake was.  Is it something that affected someone else?  If not, just take your lesson and move on.  Don’t dwell in the past.
If your mistake does hurt someone else, you need to try and understand to what extent.  Did you just make someone uncomfortable?  Did you make them mad?  Did your actions physically hurt them?  Maybe, (hopefully not) you might even have cost a life.

Again, this is the time to be honest with yourself and truly try to understand what your actions created.  If you are having problems figuring this out, maybe a third party can help.

Step 4: Step Four, Face the Music

Don’t wait for this one.  If you recognized that you did something wrong, admit it right away.  Don’t wait for someone to “find” the error or problem.  It’s often easier to fix a mistake early.  Also, people are much more forgiving when you come forward before there is an issue than if you wait until the issue is out of control.

Step 5: Step Five, Pay the Price

Your mistake might have cost money or time, or both.  You need to be willing to make good on your actions.  Don't fret, you screwed up and now you should fully expect to pay the price.  Whatever it is, you need to deal with the consequences.  As I always say, “Take it on the chin!”

Don’t just apologize to the person that was a victim of your mistake; LISTEN to them.  They may need to just talk about it, they may need to yell, or they may need to beat a fist on the table.  Let them.  Don’t make matters worst by trying to control them.  ((Potentially sexist comment follows; read only if you don’t get offended easily.)Note for the real men reading this, if your mistake hurts a women, and she lashes out at you and hits you, take it. This is no time to be a wimp.  Let them get it out of their system, you can take it.)

Don’t forget (or in anyway try to avoid) saying the actually words, “I’m sorry.  I messed up.”  Many times, this admission means the world to the victim. 

Note, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I dated one once.  Many people are afraid to admit to being wrong because they are afraid that they will get sued.  I just want to say, “Suck it up!”  If you made a mistake, own up to it.  If they sue, so be it.  Our country is going down the toilet because people forget simple manners to avoid lecherous lawsuits.  If they sue, walk into the courtroom with your head held high, with the knowledge that you did what was right.  NEVER be afraid to do what’s right!  Right is Might!

Step 6: Step Six, Don't Expect Everything to Be Normal Right Away.

Depending on your mistake, it may take time for people to deal with your actions.  It may take hours, days, months, or even years.  Whatever it is, you need to be patient.  Remember, you are the one that caused the problem; you don’t get to dictate when they should feel fine.

Step 7: Step Seven, Learn From Your Mistake and Try Not to Make It Again.

Write it down, type it a hundred types, or whatever you need to do, but learn from this mistake, and try to grow as a person.  Being ‘human’ doesn’t mean being perfect, but it means to be able to learn and better yourself when you fail.  Also, it’s important to remember this entire process for the next step…

Step 8: Step Eight, Forgive!

That’s right, I said forgive.  But you may ask, “Who am I forgiving?” You need to forgive yourself first.  Then you need to forgive your victim for any response they may have had to your mistake (again, you caused the problem in the first place.)

Finally, you need to forgive everyone else, all the time.  You made this mistake, but chances are other people are making mistakes that affect you as well.  Forgive them.  You know how hard it can be to own up to it, so don’t be too hard on them.

Hope you enjoyed this ‘ible.  I’m really looking forward to your comments!



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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 4

    i like u pic :-)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    how / where did u get the hart onthe flore pic????


    8 years ago on Step 8

    is it a bad idea to offer stuff like not doing a thing for a long time or doing something for a long time


    9 years ago on Step 5

    What the Heck Happened here???? Football game gone bad??? OR... to qutote your instructable ..."Note for the real men reading this, if your mistake hurts a women, and she lashes out at you and hits you, take it. This is no time to be a wimp.  Let them get it out of their system, you can take it"...Did She hit harder than you thought she could???


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting Ible, I'm sure I can learn something from this.

    By the way, how can it be that this Instructable is four years old but has only two comments?

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I only posted it last week.  Maybe, because I'm in a radically different time zone (Afghanistan) that the server's time stamp is out of whack.  Or, maybe I found the secret to time travel!  8>)  I wonder what date will appear on this 'ible response to your question.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, I just checked it again, and you might be seeing the date that I joined this website.  As I see it listed, the date is correct (Jan 22 2010.)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Correct, that was the date you joined the site, not the date that you launched the Instructable.


    9 years ago on Introduction


    Be sure you cover all those things to the person or group you have offended. 

    1.  You're sorry for (what you did and be specific).
    2.  You realize what you did was wrong and how it hurt (be specific).
    3.  You realize things won't be the same right away.
    4.  You'll try not to do it again.

    If you don't say all these things to the person you offended you have not fully apologized.