How to Respond to an Apology if Still Mad

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

When administered with honesty and tact, an apology has the capacity to restore trust and repair a broken relationship. However, apologizing is a two-way street; when forgiveness is requested, it is up to the recipient to provide it. If you're angry and haven't had the opportunity to process your feelings, you might find it hard to respond favorably to an apology. Instead of calm acceptance or simply remaining neutral, you may lash out verbally, risking an abrupt end to communication.

Step 1

Explain to the individual making the apology that you need time to cool down. A person who was in the wrong and who wants to apologize may want to do so as soon as possible. Although this is considerate, the timing may be wrong and can lead to additional animosity between you. If you feel angry when the person attempts to apologize, calmly state that you need time to process the infraction. If possible, assure the other person that you will contact him at a later time to provide him an opportunity to apologize.

Step 2

Ask another friend or family member to intervene on your behalf. If you're mad, it may help to have a friend or family member be present during the apology to act as a buffer or mediator. A mediator can be helpful in cases where one or more individuals find it difficult to communicate, notes the University of Colorado. If you don't have someone close to you who can act as a mediator, consider seeking a professional mediator. Professional mediators can be found at local legal aid agencies and family clinics and are generally available at no cost.

Step 3

Write an email, text or letter to the individual who wants to make an apology to you. Being mad can impair your ability to think quickly and explain yourself clearly. If you feel that saying something to the individual who wants to offer an apology is better than the silent treatment, write her a letter or email or text her. Think about what you need to say that lets her know you are mad, but without making her feel even worse than she may already. Have someone who is relatively objective to read over what you intend to send to be sure it is brief without underlying intent or implications.

Step 4

Accept the apology without responding in detail. Sometimes, less is more, particularly when accepting an apology even though you're still mad. Realize that acceptance is important for the person who wants to apologize and that it has probably taken him some time to build the courage to say he is sorry. Wait until you can control your reaction, allow the other person to apologize and leave it at that. If necessary, have a friend, family member or mediator explain your lack of response or do so on your own via email, text or letter.