Love means never having to say you're sorry--or does it? Women tend to apologize more than men. I noticed something odd in the grocery store the other day. When the cashier gave the woman ahead of me the wrong change, the woman stuffed the money in her purse without looking. When the cashier said, "Wait, I owe you another dollar," and handed it to her, the woman flushed and said, "Oh, I'm sorry!" (Why was she sorry? Good question.)
The example above is probably an "automatic" apology and isn't significant. But when you know you should make a "real" apology, here are a few tips.
1. Be clear about what you are apologizing for. And for heaven's sake, don't blame the injured party. Has anyone ever said to you, "I'm sorry I made you angry?" or "I'm sorry you got upset." Wow, how manipulative. That is not an apology and puts the blame right back on the wrong person. You did it, you said it, so "own" it!
2. Tell the person you will not do it again. And mean it. Sometimes it's just a question of not having all the facts. When I was teaching at a college, I unwittingly ticked off the head of the department by taking "his" parking place. I had no way of knowing it was "his" place, it wasn't marked in any way. His secretary finally told me how "unhappy" he was with me. He'd had that spot for years and no one had ever challenged him on it. I went to him and quickly apologized, promising him I would never steal "his" spot again. We had a good laugh about it and harmony was restored.
3. Be sincere and let the person know that you realize you caused them pain/inconvenience/discomfort, whatever. It doesn't matter if you feel they are "unjustified" in feeling upset. The point is, whatever you said or did caused them pain and that's what you have to address.
On a final note, I'm guilty of saying "I'm sorry" way too often. Last night, one of my cats knocked over an entire pot of spaghetti. I immediately said, "I'm sorry!" The cat, of course, said nothing. Why doesn't that surprise me. LOL