1. Actually Apologize
This one is super simple. Start by saying, "I'm sorry" or "I apologize." Many people get this part right, but it is the next few steps when things go all downhill.
2. Clearly State your Wrongdoing
In this step, you need to clearly state what you are apologizing for and what you did wrong. When you are doing this, you need to be able to honestly and openly say you are at fault in the situation. If you are not sure what you are apologizing for, you should not start an apology. You need to backtrack and listen to the person you have wrong and understand where they feel you have wrong them. IF YOU ARE NOT SORRY, DO NOT APOLOGIZE.
3. DO NOT MAKE EXCUSE!
This step is the MOST significant part. It also grinds my gears when done incorrectly. An apology is not the time for excuses. If you think the person you are apologizing to did something wrong or is an effect of what they did wrong, it is okay to request an apology from them or even say I will not apologize for your mistakes until they apologize for theirs. BUT DO NOT APOLOGIZE WITH THE EXPECTATION OF GETTING AN APOLOGY BACK. Your apology needs to stand on its own without any excuses or expectations of reprisal.
4. Plan to Move Forward
This step indicates why this situation won't happen again and what steps to take to ensure that. This plan should include the person receiving your apology. How this plan looks depends on the infraction or wrongdoing and the person. If you apologize for eating someone's food in the fridge, the plan might be to ask to make sure the person doesn't want it before eating it. However, if the infraction is infidelity, then the other person may need a lengthy step by step plan to ensure it will not happen again. This plan is dependent on the answer you will receive to the last step.
5. Ask for Forgiveness
This step is also straightforward, but many often forget it. The point of an apology is to admit wrong AND ask for forgiveness. Many people say, "I am sorry" and then expect the person to say I forgive you, but there is so much power in the asking. When you ask for forgiveness, it ties the apology with a bow of saying, "I know what I did was wrong, and I would like you to forgive me for it." There is a vulnerability in that statement which goes with the sincerity of the apology. In many ways apologizing in a vulnerable act because it humbles you, and when you wrong someone that also makes that person vulnerable and when you apologized, it also puts you in the vulnerable space, so everyone is on an equal playing field.
These steps are how to deliver a productive and real apology. Again, I firmly believe you should not apologize if you don't feel like you did anything wrong. Let's remove this notion that everyone must apologize even with children. You should also never apologize to get an apology in return because there will be cases where you will not get one back or at least not one you believe.
Let us normalize forgiving people without an apology. I would instead do the internal work to forgive someone who I feel has done me wrong, then have someone give me a half-ass insincere apology that would make me madder. Asking forgiveness can be hard, but giving forgiveness makes you strong. (That is a blog post for another week)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.