Humans make mistakes, and it is natural to want to apologize when we do. However, not all apologies are created equal, and some can be used as a form of manipulation rather than a genuine expression of remorse.
With this post, I wish to address the issue of fake apologies that I faced in the past few months and had to learn how to respond appropriately.
I'm embarrassed to admit that up until now, I haven't learned how to spot a fake apology. I projected my sincerity on people and trusted their words. Until I learned what manipulation using apologies looks like and how often people use it to evoke empathy to avoid accountability for their actions.
After reading this, I hope you will know how to recognize a fake apology, either in others or in yourself, and how to respond or call yourself out when you become aware of it.
A fake apology is insincere, vague, or manipulative. These apologies are often used to placate someone without taking responsibility for the harm caused. They may also be used to shift the blame onto the person harmed or minimize the severity of the situation. The purpose of fake apologies is to avoid accountability for the impact of one's actions.
Fake apologies are insincere and manipulative, and they do not genuinely express remorse for the harm caused and are designed to avoid accountability for harmful behavior.
All five tactics were used by my ex-partner, who swore to me he doesn't lie or cheat. Until recently, I didn't know why I would fume in rage after each of his apologies, only to realize that his words were tactics.
Even in facilitated conversations, when Radical Honesty trainers supported us in getting over anger, they were oblivious to the manipulation. That's the danger of not knowing about fake apologies - you have a culture enabling lies, manipulation, and lack of accountability that focuses on forgiveness before the damage is addressed.
When faced with a fake apology, it can be challenging to know how to respond. Here are five possible responses that can help you navigate the situation:
By choosing an authentic response, you can navigate the situation with integrity and protect your own well-being.
Nothing soothes a person's heart as a sincere apology for the harm done. If you've realized that you've been using fake apologies, taking responsibility for your actions and apologizing sincerely is essential.
Here are some steps you can follow to apologize in a way that acknowledges the harm caused and demonstrates your commitment to doing better in the future:
By following these steps, you can demonstrate your commitment to repairing the harm caused and building stronger relationships with those around you.
Finally, I want to remind you that apologizing without changing behavior is manipulation. If you continue causing harm, your apologies are insincere and eventually erode trust in your relationships - the trust in you and the trust in themselves - the person being manipulated.
Fake apologies cause cognitive dissonance and emotional dysregulation, eventually leading to mental health issues and chronic illnesses. If you are not ready to apologize and stop the harmful behavior, call yourself out and simply say that.
Being honest about where you are in the matter works better for everyone's well-being - yours and those affected by your impact. And if you are being manipulated with fake apologies, trust your gut and focus on the apologizer's actions, not their words, or consult a professional when in doubt.
Stay informed and aware.