About a week later I learned that, according to the psychologist and author Harriet Lerner, the wording of my apology was just what the “doctor” would have ordered. In the very first chapter of her new book, “Why Won’t You Apologize?,” Dr. Lerner points out that apologies followed by rationalizations are “never satisfying” and can even be harmful.
“When ”˜but’ is tagged on to an apology,” she wrote, it’s an excuse that counters the sincerity of the original message. The best apologies are short and don’t include explanations that can undo them….
As to why many people find it hard to offer a sincere, unfettered apology, Dr. Lerner pointed out that “humans are hard-wired for defensiveness. It’s very difficult to take direct, unequivocal responsibility for our hurtful actions. It takes a great deal of maturity to put a relationship or another person before our need to be right.”
Read it all (my emphasis).