How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When accused of something that you have done, one way of handling this is simply to accept the accusation as true, without complaint or excuse.
Even if the accusation seems unfair or is not fully accurate, then just act with humble dignity, neither questioning it nor making any justification. As appropriate apologize, but do not go overboard with effusive regret.
Look down a little to show your sadness, but do not sag too far. Gaze at them and frown a little to show your concern. Do not smile.
They may be expecting or looking for an argument, and so may be increasingly critical. Do not give in to their need for conflict. If they make demands, there is no need now to answer them.
Seek first to focus on facts. Agree with what happened, what you did or what you said (or not). Be careful about getting into value discussions, about what is right or wrong, although it may be most effective simply to accept you failed in some way.
You're right. I should have been more careful. I apologize.
Indeed, that is true. I was there.
I should have been more thoughtful. I upset you. I'm sorry.
If you have done something wrong, then it can be a powerful act to own up and apologize. This shows you as a caring, honest person. Where many would try to wriggle off the hook, you show your integrity in taking responsibility. In this way, you can end up with a better reputation than when you started.
Whether it is better to apologize or argue can depend on the severity of what happened. There are some things that, no matter how much you say sorry, you will suffer more from admitting guilt. Yet these are fewer than might be thought. And certainly, the net effect of denying or arguing the case and later being found out can be far worse for you.
When the accusation is unfair or inaccurate, you face a dilemma. If you try to set the record straight, it can easily seem like you are trying to get away with a wrong-doing rather than seek the truth. If the difference is not too great, it can be a better strategy to swallow your pride and accept the rap.
For your own comfort, expressing sorrow does not necessarily mean you are apologizing. Saying 'I am sorry' can mean 'I feel sorrow for your situation'. Beware of being too careful with this and again look like you are trying to reduce your culpability.