Convincing Apologies Require Six Components
Apologizing is one of the most difficult acts of persuasion because of its extremely high emotional charge and authenticity threshold.
- Expression of regret.
- Explanation of what went wrong.
- Acknowledgment of responsibility.
- Declaration of repentance.
- Offer of repair.
- Request for forgiveness.
The more of those elements are included in an apology, the more convincing it is. However, if you only want to use one, the less persuasive is asking for forgiveness while the most effective is acknowledging your responsibility.
It should be noted that this study was based on experiments involving written apologies which are less emotionally engaging than verbal ones. Indeed, the latter’s perception is heavily influenced by nonverbal communication (tone of voice, body language…).