Whether a simple disagreement with your friend sparked a rift or a bigger disagreement is at play, knowing how to apologize is essential for maintaining relationships with others. The way you apologize can shift your friendship -- either for better or worse. You can say "I'm sorry" in several ways that can help the two of you repair your friendship.

Thinking It Over

Before you utter a peep to your pal, spend some time thinking about what happened -- and whether or not you are at fault. This also gives you time to practice your apology. When making your apology, instead of simply saying, "I'm sorry," make your apology more specific by saying something such as, "I'm sorry for what I said to you last night," suggests the online Debretts Etiquette Guide. Avoid blaming your friend while making the apology; for example, don't say, "I'm sorry, but you made me so angry I had to say something." Keep the apology focused on your own wrongdoing. Your apology might also include your feelings about the pain, sadness or embarrassment your behavior caused a friend. If you do not feel you were at fault -- say, a friend blames you for your boyfriend's actions -- you are not obligated to apologize.

Apologizing Personally

If possible, apologies should be made in person or through a phone call, advice columnist Slash Coleman suggests on "Psychology Today" online. When acknowledging your part, you might say, "I'm sorry for calling you that," "I realize that I'm late, and I'm sorry. I'll leave earlier next time," or "I broke my promise and I had no excuse for it. I hope I can regain your trust again in the future."

The Written Apology

You may choose to send an apology in writing after offering a verbal apology, according to Debretts. You might write, "I feel awful about the argument we had last week. I want to make things right, and I don't want to lose our friendship over this. I hope we can move forward with time." You might also write, "What I said was foolish and ended up causing you a great deal of pain. I'm sorry for what I did, and I will do better in the future."

Other Concerns

Sometimes, a friend may not be ready to forgive you -- or may need more time before discussing what happened. You may find that adding an offer of restitution to your apology, like taking your friend out to lunch or helping her with a new responsibility if you failed to help before could help, asserts Coleman.