Looking into the idea of remorse. Put simply it is the feeling of regret for having done something that is in the past. When our actions effect other people in negative ways we use apologies as a way of expressing this remorse.
It is important to issue an apology when the effects of our actions were unforeseen, or unintended. It shows that we wouldn’t have chosen to make that decision if we had known that it would result in the other negative consequence.
When the consequence is intended or known when the action is committed the remorse expressed has little value since it was not great enough to prohibit the behavior.
An example is when an employer apologies for firing someone. If the decision is within their control they should alter their decision and not fire the person. If the decision is not within the employer’s control then the apology they are offering has no impact on the person being fired.
An apology must accompany action for it to be material. If there is simply exchange
of words whatever emotional consolation the apology offers is dissipated immediately after they are spoken.
This expression of remorse, when unrooted in tangible efforts to reconcile, is too easily forgotten. Without a lasting impression the value of an apology is null. Offering this type of apology actually benefits the issuer more then the receiver.
When we do this we grant ourselves the relief of expressing our remorse without reaching into the lives of the person we’ve hurt to make amends.
For this a better phrase to apply than “I’m sorry.” , would be “Please forgive me.”