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Nonpology: When You’re Not Sincere


In this digital world, mistakes are made. Saying the things you did not mean, forgetting to reply to a message, hitting your friend’s new car. Absolutely everyone makes mistakes, accidentally or with purpose. The difference is whether we are truly sorry or not. However, we need to apologize if we hurt someone’s feelings or make them uncomfortable. Most of us have been taught to apologize when we do something wrong. But, we are not taught about how to do it correctly. Even on social media, we still have the arrogance that prevents us from asking forgiveness and admitting that we do something that hurts them.

         When we finally decide to say sorry, we should make sure they know that we indeed mean it. To show that our apology is sincere and genuine, we need to express it with the right wording. Otherwise, we might just give a non-apology apology.

Nowadays, people make a new word other than just an apology. They see when a person apologizes but the person does not really acknowledge that they offended others and take the responsibility. They called the insincere apology a non-apology apology, nonpology, unapology, pseudo-apology, etc.

How do we usually express our apologies? “I am sorry I ate your cake,” “I am sorry if I hurt your feelings,” or “I am sorry, but it is not what I meant”

         The first sentence is the proper apology. We say sorry, express our regret, and say what we did. It is right because you are taking responsibility for what you did, not blaming it on others. You admit that you hurt or offended them and validate their feelings.

         The second and third sentences are examples of nonpology. Using “if” and adding “but, …” shows that you are making excuses and justifying your actions, refusing to admit your mistakes rather than being responsible for what you did. Try saying “that” or “for” instead. “I am sorry that I hurt your feelings” or “I am sorry for hurting your feelings.” Center your apology to admit and validate the other person’s feelings and not on your intentions.

         Another form of nonpology is, “I am sorry you feel that way.” That sentence does not express regret of what you did, but you turn the blame back to them. It invalidates their feeling and implies that they should not take offense to what you did. Rather than saying, “I am sorry you are offended by what I said,” it is better if you say, “I am sorry my words offend you.” Focus on your behavior and the negative impact on that person.

         Few people know this kind of apology and how it affects the offended person. A real and sincere apology can help the hurt person to heal faster and make it easier to forgive you. Better to put your pride down and say sorry than to let a relationship come to its end. More than that, knowing how you can be more sincere and nicer to other people can help nourish your relationship. Make your bond stronger and closer by sincerely apologizing and improving your actions because an apology is not enough if you do not do something to make amends.

Action speaks louder than words, but do not underestimate the power of words.


Aguirre, Leah. “5 Examples Of The Worst Non-Apology Apologies.” DiveThru, 22 June 2021, https://divethru.com/worst-non-apology-apologies/.

Carey, Stan. Sorry not sorry: Non-apology, fauxpology, unpology, and other names for hollow apologies, 20 November 2014, https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/11/sorry-not-sorry-non-apology-fauxpology-unpology-and-other-names-for-hollow-apologies.html.

Enslen, Samantha, et al. “How to Write an Apology (and Avoid Non-Apologies).” Quick and Dirty Tips, 12 October 2017, https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/articles/how-to-write-an-apology-and-avoid-non-apologies/.

“5 Differences Between a Sincere Apology and Non-Apology.” LiveAbout, 24 March 2018, https://www.liveabout.com/differences-between-a-sincere-apology-and-non-apology-1385231.

“NON-APOLOGY | Meaning & Definition for UK English.” Lexico.com, https://www.lexico.com/definition/non-apology.

Wilson, Debra Rose. “When an Apology Is Not an Apology.” Psych Central, 9 October 2016, https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-an-apology-is-not-an-apology#4.

Yamamoto, Kyoko, et al. “Sorry, Not Sorry: Effects of Different Types of Apologies and Self-Monitoring on Non-verbal Behaviors.” https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.689615.

Writer: Leony Sutanto Halim 

Editor: Amalia Prameswari


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