Originally Posted by nycindie
The difference is this: Often you realize that it's more important to take care of the people around you than to be right about something. If you think about that, it is easy to be genuine and apologize, even if you aren't really sorry. The apology is an acknowledgment of having hurt them, or having created an environment in which they feel hurt, and a gesture of surrendering to something greater (the relationship), or calling a truce, so that resentments do not remain in the way and the relationship can move forward. Sometimes it takes a bit of swallowing one's pride, but when the other person knows you are making an effort, healing takes place. Very wise teachers of mine have said many times that we all have two choices, being right or being alive. Digging one's heels in about being "right" only gives you that - being righteous. Whoopee. Apologizing and moving forward leads to aliveness. Sometimes an apology is only symbolic, but it still does much to soothe and heal wounds.
recently something like this happened to me. i was at a roller derby game and one of the other referees took something i said the wrong way. although i definitely didn't mean it in a bad way, and i definitely thought he was over-reacting, i acknowledged that what i said was unnecessary and APOLOGIZED. However, I was not "sorry" for saying it because I didn't MEAN to offend. I didn't apologize in a hostile, sarcastic way like Olderwoman suggested ("I'm not really sorry, but I sincerely apologize" - that is NOT "sincere"), I simply said "I didn't mean it like that, but you're right, I probably shouldn't have said it at all."
So, Older Woman, THAT is how I apologize without being sorry.