"I'm sorry" are magic words. And when used as a direct and uncomplicated admission of wrong-doing, they open the door to peace.
Think of an apology as a relationship tool. Two words that indicate you take responsibility for your actions, and have the desire to rebuild trust.
Once you assess the situation and decide to take personal responsibility for any harm done, you are ready to apologize. And your apology will be sincere when you can clarify and explain your role in the matter without making excuses or blaming any part another person played.
If your motive for saying, "I'm sorry" is to repair a wrong and begin a healing process, then go for it.
Interestingly, the path to an appropriate apology can be traveled in a matter of seconds - or years. But sooner is always better, and usually easier.
Offer an apology as soon as possible, and in person or by phone. "I'm sorry" is best said when the person receiving your apology hears the words directly from you.
However, if there is some severity to your wrong doing, following your in-person apology with a hand-written note will show sincerity.
When apologizing, never add a "but . . ." at the end of the sentence. If you are still making excuses for your behavior, you're probably not ready to offer a genuine apology.
Building in an amend with your apology is a booster, "I'm sorry I didn't carry through on what I said I would do. It won't happen again." But never make a promise you can't keep.
Show patience and kindness to the person you are apologizing to. If she becomes defensive, or is immediately unwilling to forgive you, employ silence and just listen to what she has to say. Forgiveness can take time.
Remembering that others are human like we are is vital. Many times, it is not easy to strip down to the bare bones something you've done and express regret to someone you've hurt.
Keep in mind that an apology is a reparation process. In every relationship, things go awry and need repair. But the person who takes charge of himself and is vigilant to correct behavior, is building character. It is a way of seizing opportunity to learn through mistakes.
Even if you aren't forgiven, taking the steps of repair will count for something. It’s a process.