There are a lot of strategies when it comes to saying you’re sorry. You could go to the person who you’ve unjustifiably hurt with your tail between your legs and beg and beg, then refuse to leave until they forgive you. You could send flowers to the victim’s work (That shit is expensive, fuck that noise). But a group of researchers at Ohio State University believe they have discovered the best way to apologize.
The study, which was published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management, presented 755 volunteers with a hypothetical business scenario where a potential employee admits to wrongdoing at a previous job during a job interview. The potential employee then apologizes for their actions. The participants were then asked to rate on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very) on how effective, credible and adequate the apology statement was.
The researchers identified six key components that make up an effective apology:
- Expression of regret
- Explanation of what went wrong
- Acknowledgment of responsibility
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- Request for forgiveness
“Apologies really do work, but you should make sure you hit as many of the six key components as possible,” said Roy Lewicki, lead author of the study and professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.
However, two of the ways to apologize are more effective than the others.
“Our findings showed that the most important component is an acknowledgement of responsibility. Say it is your fault, that you made a mistake,” Lewicki said. “One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. But by saying, ‘I’ll fix what is wrong,’ you’re committing to take action to undo the damage,” Lewicki said, named repairing the situation the second best method.
The least effective constituent of a mea culpa is a request for forgiveness.
Personally, I say fuck this study and the best way to say you’re sorry is to not say you’re sorry at all. Deflect the negative energy back on the person who you’ve hurt and pretend it’s their fault that you’re a horrible person. But that’s just my anti-social way of not dealing with things and it works for me, plus saves me a lot of time saying, “I’m sorry.”