What Makes A 'Sincere' Apology? And Is It Better To Stay Quiet Sometimes?

“A half-baked apology is like putting a plaster on a deep wound,” says relationship expert.
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Have you ever had someone do something terrible to you and, rather than being offered a sincere from-the-heart apology, you get something that sounds like they’re being forced to say it at gunpoint?

Similar, in a way, to Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’s recent video ‘apologising’ for writing a letter to a judge overseeing the That 70s Show actor Danny Masterson’s recent court case that saw him sentenced to 30 years in jail for drugging and raping two women.

Rather than coming across as sincere, the two adopted a defensive and, for lack of a better word, bizarre approach, with fans online saying it was all part of a bad PR move and a fake apology.

Serious court cases aside, is it better to not apologise at all if it doesn’t sound sincere? Or should you give a half-baked apology in the interest of bettering your relationships?

“Sincerity is everything when it comes to apologies,” Jessica Alderson co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd shares exclusively to HuffPost UK.

“Honesty is a fundamental aspect of trust in any relationship, and fake apologies can actually do more harm than good. They often lack any genuine emotion or remorse, and if this is evident, it can make recipients feel disrespected, manipulated, and dismissed. Authenticity is key when it comes to meaningful relationships and building trust,” she says.

What to do if you don’t genuinely feel sorry, but want to protect the relationship, though?

“One option is to acknowledge the other person’s feelings without apologising for something you don’t genuinely feel sorry for. For instance, you could say, ‘I’m sorry that my actions hurt you,’ without admitting wrongdoing if you believe you were in the right,” she recommends.

As with everything, communication is key, says Jessica: “If it’s a one-on-one situation, communication can help to repair the relationship. Listen intently, share your honest thoughts, and be open to being vulnerable.

“Personal relationships can be complex, and truly understanding the nuances of a situation can require communication and understanding. If you are both open to each other’s perspectives, you have a far higher chance of resolving the issue than if you go through the motions with a half-baked apology.”

Whatever you do, saying sorry when you don’t mean it just won’t make things work in the long run, she says: “A non-sincere apology is like putting a plaster on a deep wound. You may temporarily hide the situation, but it won’t heal until you address the underlying problem.

“Think about the long-term consequences. While a non-sincere apology might temporarily smooth things over, it can lead to resentment or further issues down the road.”