Apologies, true ones, are more than these two words. Apologies require action. In my view, there are at least four separate steps required for any apology to be considered valid:

  1. Recognize what you did wrong, why, how, and to whom.
  2. Apologize to the person/people you wronged. Ideally with an explanation, now that you have completed step one and can provide a true one.
  3. Remedy the wrong in whatever way possible. Preferably in a way that those you’ve wronged see as proper remedy as well. If they suggest one, and it is in any way agreeable, by all means save yourself some trouble and do that.
  4. Learn from the experience so that you may avoid doing such wrong again. This is especially important because doing such again not only effectively cancels out the previous three steps but likely may render another round of apology ineffective or the requirements needed for another acceptance insurmountable.

Two simple words are never enough. In fact, they are all too often not even the right place to start.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that most of us could use a remedial course in such a basic courtesy. Heck, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just as guilty and in need. So consider this simple message a note to self that I hope others can learn from too.