The right time to say sorry

We're all inclined to apologise too much, often for things that aren't even our fault - yet we struggle to say sorry sometimes when it should be said. Here's when you really do need to say sorry, from Viv Groskop


The right time to say sorry

1. When you truly feel sorry and know that the apology will make you feel better. For example, if you forget to go to a friend’s party. I just did this – I wrote the wrong date in my diary, and I felt terrible. She thought it was funny.

2. When you truly feel sorry for something important (a friend is unwell or bereaved) or because you know you have done something wrong that you regret.

3. If you’re sorry for losing your temper. You don’t need to take any blame or agree with anyone’s version of events. A small, simple apology goes a long way in these situations.

4. If you’re sorry for hurting someone’s feelings, without having to say that they’re right to feel that way. This is a good one for a work context. ‘I’m so sorry you feel that way. And I’m even more sorry that I see things very differently.’ Try not to be passive-aggressive as you say it…

5. When you dislodge someone else’s wing mirror, cut them up at a roundabout or steal their parking space. Of course, you’re not sorry. But at least pretend…

Photograph: Corbis