The Three Main Types Of Apologies (And What You’re Really Saying)

The Three Main Types Of Apologies (And What You're Really Saying)

The other week, I was having a discussion with a friend about apologies. More specifically, “apologies”. Aka fake ones. Aka “sorry YOU were offended” types. I said that I would rather people didn’t fake being sorry as that is more … painful, patronising… you choose the adjective that suits!


The Three Main Types Of Apologies (And What You’re Really Saying)


The Three Main Types Of Apologies (And What You're Really Saying)


Genuine Apology

“I was a dick, I recognise that, I’m truly sorry and will look at my behaviour.”

These apologies are, wait for it, genuine. The person knows they did something wrong. They don’t want to do it again. They really are sorry that they caused you pain.


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Fake Apology

“Sorry YOU were offended.”

These are the worst, in my book. This is what I hear: “I don’t want to talk about this anymore even though deep (deep) down I know I was being a dickhead but I can’t acknowledge I have flaws so if I say sorry and you won’t forgive me and drop it then I’ve done the shallow and faux socially acceptable thing and I can make YOU look like a dick so no one sees I’m one”.


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No Apology


I read these as “I know I was a dick and I don’t care”. In a way, I respect these more than the fake apologies. At least these people are just a dick, not a lying dick. One less bad trait. 


How do you view apologies? Do you think there are more types, or do these three cover a large majority?


12 Replies to “The Three Main Types Of Apologies (And What You’re Really Saying)”

  1. I’m with you, the fake apology is the worst. No apology is better than that!

    1. I’m still mad at the last fake apology I received!

    2. Agreed.

      Between a fake apology and no apology, while neither is an ideal outcome of being wronged, I see the latter as the lesser of two evils. As bad as it is when someone does or says something wrong to you and refuses to apologize for it, it’s worse when the wrongdoer makes a fake apology that comes off as “If it’ll get you off my back, I’m sorry” or “If it’ll shut you up, I’m sorry.”

  2. Yep, no apology is way better than a fake apology but best of all, is someone who owns their stuff ups and comes clean about it. Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to apologies 🙂

    1. I hope we all get more genuine ones. Well, none at all, I guess – but if one is needed!

  3. I can’t stand the “I’m sorry you were offended”. Don’t apologise for my feelings, I’m not! I think there are way too many adults roaming around unwilling to accept any responsibility for their behaviour, yet willing to dole out insincere apologies just to say “I don’t know why you’re still mad, I apologised”.

    1. It’s so infuriating, isn’t it?

  4. Learning to apologise well is a skill that seems to be rarer and rarer these days. Maybe people care less and less about how their actions impact others?

    1. I don’t know if they care less, I wonder if they understand less?

  5. Just had a customer service situation where I got the most sincere apology and quick response to fix something. It’s amazkng what a great interaction it was because I knew it was sincere.

  6. Interesting that this popped into my feed today. Yesterday I was overcharged for an item at Lowes. So just to check, I rang Them & the salesperson who answered was the person who rang that price up. He said “it wasn’t coming up on the register as reduced price”….I countered with, well it was on the rack of reduced clothes. So, I said I will have to come in tomorrow now to get the amount adjusted. “Yes” he said. Today, I went in & lady in charge said “oh you are the cranky person J told me about” I said, umm.Not really..he just needs to say “Sorry” or words like that for my inconvenience. She replied..,’he’s young, they don’t seem to understand that’.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I feel like retail is its own unique hellscape in this area because the staff seem under so much pressure to not accept any type of return and/or refund – it’s like the companies haven’t written a certain % into their operating expectations and therefore it’s the “fault” of the customer. I assume they are pressured to have a 0 returns KPI and most seem unaware that store policy does not override consumer guarantees.

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