Some people feel that apologizing carries deeper psychological ramifications than their words imply.
Apologizing feels far too vulnerable—too threatening even. Non-apologizers find it challenging to set aside their pride long enough to concede their imperfections. They depend on external validation, and therefore, they need to be seen as correct, strong, and powerful. Admitting they are flawed and fallible is thus something they refuse to do.
Offering an Apology Can Feel Like a Sign of Weakness
In sum, refusing to apologize often echoes a conscious or subconscious effort to protect a fragile sense of self. Apologies require a reasonably robust sense of self-worth, and often non-apologizers feel that regrets for their actions significantly threaten their basic sense of identity and self-esteem. They fear it’d open the floodgates to more vulnerability and blame. They’re pathologically afraid of being wrong.
When a person’s sense of self is threatened, they counter-attack and double down on their position. Other times, a self-preservation instinct will lead people to offer a submission—a calculated, face-saving “non-apology apology” that doesn’t suggest proper accountability.
Other non-apologizers can be oblivious to the effect their actions have on others. They don’t apologize because they are unaware that they have something—anything even—to apologize for. They lack empathy and can’t put themselves in the other person’s place.
Idea for Impact: It Takes Strength to Apologize Meaningfully
Learn to work past your fears and resistance to apologizing. Apologizing for the harm you’ve caused and taking responsibility for your mistakes can indeed be a sign of strength.
Effective apologies empathize with the wronged party and address the recipients’ feelings—they don’t need to prove a point. Name what you did wrong, show yourself as regretful, and indicate what might be different in the future.