How often do you apologize? Ironically, according to a group of Canadian psychologists, we apologize more to strangers than we do to our family members. This data fits with last week’s blog that we are hardest on the people closest to us. What type of apology are you most inclined to offer? An article in The Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Bernstein describes six different types of apology. There is the “heartfelt apology,” the “strategic apology,” the “defensive apology,” the “contingent apology,” the “too-late apology,” and the “bully apology.” The reality is that we have all probably used all of these types at times, but the heartfelt apology is the most effective. Studies from the journal Psychological Science reported that men had a higher threshold for what offended them and were more likely to apologize if they believed they’d done something wrong. In general, women tend to be more sensitive and tend to apologize more. So what does a heartfelt apology look like? It helps to know what you did wrong and accept responsibility for the action. Avoid being defensive and do not use the phrase “I’m sorry, but…” Be sure to acknowledge the emotional impact of your actions, be remorseful, and offer a plan to avoid making the same mistake again. Offering a sincere apology is more likely to win forgiveness and help repair the relationship. We all make mistakes in our relationships, but some let pride or fear get in the way of restoration. Even if you don’t fully understand why your partner reacted like they did, you can still apologize for the feelings that they’ve experienced. Decide to do it now and appreciate the benefit of forgiveness.