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Techniques > Conversation techniques > Excuses > Restitution

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When a wrong has been done and you have been accused, offer some compensation for what has happened.

Acceptance of responsibility is normal as a part of restitution, although simultaneous accepting blame is not always necessary.

Restitution typically includes one or both of action and payment. Action involves doing specific things. Payment is effectively a substitute for action, using money to restore harmony.


I borrow a book from a friend, but it gets lost, so I buy a new copy of the book for the friend.

A man loses his temper at work and upsets several people. To restore the situation he makes both private and public apology to all concerned and promises to be more considerate in future.

I am accused of not completing certain work. In fact I could not, because I did not have the resources to do this. I say this, but also say I will work extra hours to catch up now that the resources are available.


When a person has been wronged, then apology can be very helpful. However, receiving compensation may be more important, making it a viable action to fix the situation without having to accept responsibility or blame for the wronged action.

'Restitution' comes from the same linguistic root as 'restore', and is about putting things back the way they were. Restitution is hence restorative justice.

If the other person feels betrayed, then restitution may not be enough as they typically seek retributive justice, exacting a greater revenge. This can seem unfair, but is the person seeking emotional as well as material balance.

Restitution is a good course of action when you have some form of responsibility for the person who committed the wrongful action, for example if you are a parent or manager of the actual culprit.

Restitution also works when it can be shown that you had no bad intent or that the action you took can be justified, for example being the best of a bad set of possible options at the time.

See also

Acceptance, The Effects of Betrayal


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