The Handbook

Like a Man

I'm sorry. Two little words, but it's a phrase that's often hard to say. If you have trouble owning up to your mistakes, know that you're not alone. "We have internalized from a young age that if we ever feel out of control, or unsure of ourselves, we should take great pains to hide that fact from others," says relationship coach Jordan Gray. "Societal conditioning tells us that to be a man is to be confident and correct in all that we do." But the inability to apologize can have a disastrous effect on your relationships both personal and professional. So learning how to do it properly is a skill every man needs to master.

The Art of the Apology

Do It In Person

Sending an email and text is impersonal—which is why they're easier than face to face. But they can also come across as too easy and insincere. Plus, you can't see the person's reaction, so it's hard to know how they reacted and if your apology is truly accepted. That being said, if you absolutely can't bear to face the person, a thoughtfully written note of apology is better than none at all.

Take Responsibility

Missed a deadline at work? Admit it and recognize the problem you caused the team. Said something you regret? Own up to it. Sincerity is paramount. "Acknowledge your mistake specifically," says Gray. "The more specific the better." Show that it's affecting you and you feel bad about it, but don't make any excuses—they will instantly ruin the weight and sincerity of your confession.

Offer to Make It Better

This is an important part that most guys get wrong, according to Gray. It's a one-two punch. You admit that you've messed up and you don't want it to happen again. Then explain how you'll avoid such a misdeed in the future. Offended someone? Pledge that you'll choose your words more carefully next time. Make it clear that you're willing to do what it takes to regain the person's trust.

Sorry Not Sorry

Whatever you do, don't offer up the non-apology apology. It is an act so egregious, it has its own Wikipedia page. That's when you say something like "I'm sorry you're upset." You admit no fault and only dig a deeper hole, trust us.