12 Ways to Spot a Fake Apology


Finding 10 ways to spot a fake apology isn’t too hard since some folks only say “I’m sorry” if there’s no other way out. Calling them out on it is the hard part.

A conditional apology suggests something happened


In other words, the idea that ‘if’ they did something wrong is how they justify eating humble pie. This method allows them to save some face, but it’s a big integrity dump.

They blame-shift


This is, quite honestly, a non-apology since it shifts the blame onto your shoulders. If you did something, even if you didn’t, they want to apologize that you felt this way

Making an excuse for the apology


Apologies are meant to precede healing. This type of apology does nothing but leave an open wound.

They justify the apology


This makes it clear that their ego is so fragile that they need a justification for even apologizing. The behavior they’re apologizing for was a good cause.

Stating they’ve apologized numerous times


They don’t want to apologize in the first place, so the cheap and useless apologies they’ve given are, in their mind, more than adequate. It’s like building a house of pillows, it softens the blow they feel to their ego.

A sidestepping apology


They don’t want to own the apology and attempt to show regret instead of an honest apology. They don’t want to own up to the feelings that are rightfully theirs.

The whitewashing apology


This is an effort to minimize the effect without hurting anyone. It’s not entirely negative, but quite honestly it’s also not an apology.

Not apologizing for anything while apologizing


I know, it’s confusing, but at the same time, it’s a way for people to throw up a smokescreen when apologizing that placates some people. It’s a way to say ‘Don’t be upset’ as they slip away without taking responsibility.

Pay-to-play apologies


Someone who tells you that they’ll apologize if you do something, in turn, is not apologizing, they’re bargaining. They can’t give you something they don’t feel, so they’re going to get what they can.

Phantom apology


There’s no real apology here, there’s the hint that maybe, just maybe, they should apologize, but they don’t believe it. It’s a reaction designed to make you feel that they’ve learned a lesson.

Someone ‘told’ them to apologize


To put it simply, they didn’t want to apologize but someone made them do it. Accountability by coercion is not an apology.

Bullying apology


They try to make you feel a certain way about ‘making’ them apologize. It’s a grudging way of ending an argument and moving on, and it’s not sincere.


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