Apologies help heal conflict. There are different levels of apologies and each level described below becomes more effective.
Level 1: “I’m sorry.” This is the start of an apology. The tone of voice indicates the level of remorse.
Level 2: “I’m sorry for hurting you.” or “I’m sorry for upsetting you.” This level of apology demonstrates the awareness of negatively impacting one’s partner.
Level 3: “I’m sorry for saying . . . to you.” or “I’m sorry for doing. . . to you.” This response takes ownership for behaving poorly by specifying one’s problematic behavior,.
Level 4: “I’ll work on not saying/doing that in the future.” demonstrates a commitment to changing one’s behavior going forward.
More important than saying “I’m sorry.” is taking responsibility for one’s behavior. The most effective apologies take responsibility and include a commitment to not doing it again (Levels 3 & 4).