actionable apology

actionable apology

synonyms: real apology, actual apology
antonym: half-assed apology


a sincere expression of regret followed by positive changes to correct a wrong doing.

In order to be actionable an apology needs to incorporate the following:

  • Ownership – the apology needs to include an admittance of ownership for the wrongdoing and should exclude any finger pointing or excuses.
  • Acknowledgment – the apology needs to include an acknowledgment of the wrongdoing and actions that were made -acknowledgment that the actions were a choice and that they were wrong.
  • Acceptance – the apology maker needs to accept the consequences of their own actions and not badmouth the wronged party, or solicit compassion from others.
  • Change – the apology needs to be backed by calculable change (not a want or attempt to change) and long-term effort to make sure the same thing does not happen again – no matter how much time has passed.
  • Reparation – if applicable and within reason. While a broken, priceless heirloom cannot be replaced, if something replaceable was damaged or if there are other items that need to be corrected due to the wrongdoing the apology maker needs to take these actions.

In order to be actionable an apology needs to be devoid of the following:

  • Excuses – While certain details can explain the wrongdoing, the apology maker needs to own up to their actions and remove all excuses. They must not use explanations as excuses.
  • Invalidation – it is not up to the apology maker to determine how someone else feels about the wrong doing – or how long they feel it. The apology maker needs to understand that the wronged party has full right to their feelings (sadness, anger, etc.) for however long.
  • Demands – just like the apology giver cannot force the wronged party to have (or not have) feelings, they cannot expect or demand forgiveness.
  • Hostility – the apology needs to be empty of any hostility towards the wronged party in the event they are upset or being standoffish or unsure. The apology maker needs to accept any hostility is self-created hostility.

Examples of actionable apology in a sentence:

  • “Im sorry you were upset,” did not include any ownership, acknowledgement, acceptance or change and is not an actionable apology.
  • Don’t just tell me you are sorry, show me, give me an actionable apology.
  • Karl felt horrible for hurting Michele; he gave her an actionable apology by acknowledging he was wrong and should not have spoken poorly about her behind her back. He permanently stopped his bad habit of speaking poorly about others immediately.

References: “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft.

Published by Lyndsey

I enjoy psychology, philosophy, self growth and seeing others succeed. This space is where all that combines.

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