Apologizing for wrong doings is the key to lasting relationships. Equally important but often overlooked is ensuring that the apology is thoughtful and worthy of accepting.

A few years ago, I had a falling out with a friend because I gave her star employee a referral for a new career opportunity. At the time, I could see that her employee desperately needed a different work environment for personal reasons. What I didn’t account for was that my friend would see this as an act of betrayal on my part. Only after the fact did I realize that she was right. It took me a long time to summon the courage to write her an apology, and then I saved it in my drafts for close to a year. One day, without even proof reading it, I just blasted it off. Needless to say, it was met with a lukewarm response and zero communication since. In hindsight, I realize that this was not a worthy apology.

Genuine apologies are anchored in accountability and guided by compassion for how the other person feels. Whether or not there was some element of justification on your part, or wrongdoing on theirs doesn’t matter if it’s a meaningful relationship worth keeping. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about your role in the rift and acknowledge their hurt feelings with sincerity. This is the key to preventing and dissolving underlying resentments and passive grudges.

If you have an outstanding apology due to someone, don’t wait; give it to them today. If you blew one in the past, ask for a do-over. Make it a worthy one offered with a humble heart.