If you need to apologize to someone you’ve wronged, here’s a tip: Wait a while. According to Health magazine, the later you try to make amends, the more likely you are to be forgiven. In a study, volunteers read a description of how they might be stood up by a friend. Then they considered 3 scenarios:
- An immediate apology
- A delayed apology, and
- No apology.
The study showed that most people were more willing to forgive someone after they’d spent time thinking about what they’d done, and then apologized for it. Cindy McPherson Frantz, an assistant professor of psychology at Oberlin College, helped with the study. And she says if someone says “I’m sorry” right away, but doesn’t clearly understand what they’ve done wrong, they come off as insincere. And the person they’ve offended feels like they might do it again. So it’s best to wait a while.
But on the flip side, don’t put your apology off for TOO long. People aren’t usually sympathetic after they’ve stopped thinking about the painful situation. As Frantz says, it’s not “better late than never,” it’s “better later than sooner”.