The Power of Sincere Apology
[Vinod Anand]

The word ‘sorry’ is synonymous with apology. It is a common, familiar word but it is t potent and magical in its efficacy.

In our day-today life, it is symbolic of a polite apology for a wrong done intentionally or inadvertently and normally figures in the vocabulary of suave, courteous individuals. Small, insignificant wrongs like bumping accidentally into someone or stepping on someone’s foot elicit a spontaneous, even nonchalant apology from the perpetrator.

Such superficial apologies reflect a polite, well-groomed individual but they cannot precisely be categorized as being a true, meaningful apology. It is however in the larger, more profound issues of life that a heartfelt apology plays a vital role. When do we need to say we’re sorry?

When our words or actions have hurt and harmed someone. It is a two-step process. First, apologizing with sincerity and remorse and secondly, atonement has to ensue. Both these steps are complementary to each other. An apology should not simply be seen as a means to get out of a difficult situation.

A mere articulation of the word, divest of sincerity, repentance and atonement is futile and nothing but a charade. To err is human, to admit one’s error is superhuman. Tremendous courage is entailed to face the victim of our wrongdoing and apologize. It is generally seen that those who are in harmony with their life and consequently with themselves, find it easier to say ‘I’m sorry’. They are the positive, conscientious ones who are at peace only after making amends for their misdeeds. Saying ‘sorry’ does not cost much, yet achieves much.

The mileage of an earnest apology is multifaceted. The word ‘sorry’ in itself is imbued with so much potential and power within a fraction of a second, grave mistakes are diluted, tepid and estranged relations are brought alive, animosity and rancour are dissolved, misunderstandings resolved and tense situations eased out resulting in harmony and rapprochement. We not only appease the sufferer but ourselves as well.

When we say ‘sorry’, we release a prisoner and discover that the prisoner was yours truly. We had been immured in our guilt and the resultant misery. Hence, cathartic relief is obtained. At times, the guilt is so deep-rooted that it leads to psychosomatic maladies and an aberrant psyche. Mustering enough courage to apologize can be a stepping stone for our evolvement and personal expansion. We gain serenity. We get purged and empowered.

However, apologizing in grave issues may not always be easy. There can be major deterrents like an untamed ego, age, social hierarchy, insensitivity and obduracy. As Swami Sivananda has rightly said, “Eradicate self- justification. Then alone can you annihilate your ego.”

More often than not, we delude ourselves in precluding an apology by justifying our wrong. This is simply an indirect onslaught of ego. Age and social status can also thwart this sublime act. A teacher may be loath to say ‘sorry’ to his students, so will a parent to his children or the CEO of a company to his juniors. Moreover, an inherent insensitivity and obstinacy may further sabotage an apology.

In this context, it is relevant to revisit the significance of prayer. A large chunk of our everyday prayers comprise of apology to God for our transgressions. All religious scriptures elucidate that when we say ‘sorry’ to God in all earnestness and repentance for our misdemeanours, they get washed away and we receive divine blessings. Such is the power of a sincere apology.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.