Apologies and Time

I’m sorry

Try not using those words, or “I apologize” as a sole response.  I'm sorry alone is like offering a present, and never letting the other person see what's inside.  The other person is feeling a disconnect, and getting how they feel and why they likely feel that way will re-establish that connection.  You’ll find a more powerful and heart-centered response if you instead offer:

(A)  An empathetic understanding of the other person’s perspective on events, how they feel about it, and what need(s) is involved.  Ending this with an apology can often add to the effect. 

(B)  Your commitment to behave differently in the future.  In addition to your commitment, you may have a need for understanding and clarity as well, which could be met before, simultaneously, or after depending on the circumstance. 

Seek connection and avoid making the other person wrong.  After the other person feels the connection and feels understood, expressing your feelings is appropriate.  It does take longer to truly be sorry. 

Be careful not to be violent with yourself; that you should be blamed, that you should be penitent, that you're a terrible person for what you did. And when you agree that you are a horrible person and when you have become sufficiently penitent, you can be forgiven.  If you hate yourself enough, you can be forgiven.  This approach is self-violence, and perpetuates more violence in the world.

A casual “sorry” or “excuse me” in response to something minor or trivial is different, and acceptable

I’m busy

Or, “I didn’t have time.”  Think instead about what you made more important.  Busy is a matter of priorities.  If your priorities changed after you made a commitment, explicitly or implicitly, or your communication was not clean at the time, take responsibility for your choices.  If you didn’t make time for something, say that.  Instead of saying you’re sorry, try the above. 

Example

Hey John, you know what, I made laundry, a cat nap, and calling my folks more important than this meeting.  I imagine it’s frustrating for you to want to begin, and you might be stressed and disappointed as well.  I do understand this info is important to help others, and being on time holds our community agreements dear.  I made a mistake by being late, and I commit to being on time from now on.  If I’m having trouble with my time commitments, I’ll ask for help instead of breaking them.