08/07/2014 10:17 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2014

How to Say 'I'm Sorry'

Chris Garrett via Getty Images

I'm so stubborn sometimes.

OK, usually always. It will take me an astronomically long time to say sorry or accept an apology from someone -- even when i know this useless grudge needs to end.

Here are five tricks I've been keeping in the front of my mind these days:

1.Be the first to say sorry

Try, really hard, to stop yourself at the start of a "fight" or argument with someone and just blurt out an "I'm sorry." Even if you are only partially wrong, just stop the fight early on before it pulls the both of you further away like a game of tug-of-war.

2. Understand this:

Most people are trying their best in this world. When someone upsets you, they often hardly even realize it. Ditch the silent treatment or the passive-aggressive message you want to send them and just call out what exactly is bothering you.

3. Sorry has no expiration date

I hope you know that if there's someone out there in this world you haven't spoken to in years because of some issue or fight that you hardly remember. Your sorry can still (and should) be presented to them. It's never too late to tell someone how you feel.

4. Remove yourself from the situation

When you feel like all that's being accomplished is one person trying to yell louder than the other, walk away -- hang up the phone -- and sign off Gchat for a few minutes. Close your eyes and try to process what's happening and how you really feel. Removing yourself from a stressful situation will not only make your heart and your nerves calm down, but you'll be able to walk back into it as if you've had a nice, warm shower.

5. Don't say sorry if...

You don't mean it. There's nothing worse than an empty sorry. It feels like someone is trying to place a giant pillow on top of a situation, trying to suffocate it until it no longer has a voice to complain or argue. If you don't feel like you should be the one to say sorry, don't. But then, at least, calmly explain what bothered you and think of one way that you AND the other person can adjust the situation to make it resolved.