The Semantics of Sorry
I take issue with the expression “Sorry” (in German: “Tut mir leid”).
I'm adding the German expressions, because I noticed it there at first, but it's similar in English.
You could at least take the time to say “I'm sorry” (”Es tut mir leid”).
Instead of telling me how you feel about what you did, you could address my feelings.
You could tell me what you're sorry about, just so that we're on the same page.
In addition to telling me that you're sorry, you could ask me for my indulgence (“Nachsicht”) or my forgiveness (“Vergeben”). These are lofty words, but only because they're not being used more often.
I'm not sure if it's the same with “forgiveness”, but in German it's common to say “Entschuldigung” (which is as lazy as a simple “sorry”) or “Bitte entschuldige”, which translate to “De-guilting” and “please free me from guilt”. I can't do that: it's your feeling and I can't take this from you, as you can't undo what you did.
If you're able to make amends, you should make or propose to make them.
You should be prepared to not receive what you asked for. I might say “Don't worry about it, it didn't hurt my feelings or just a little bit, but I know it's not what you intended”, but it could as well be that I need time to process what you did, or that it was unforgivable.
So, what would I like to hear is something like this, of course depending on the severity:
“Uh, that's not what I intended, please bear with me, I'll try to do better next time”.
“I broke something of yours, let me replace it”.
“What I just did was wrong and not okay. I can only hope this will not have a long-lasting impact on our relationship, but I understand if you can't see over it, and I will do what I can to make amends”.
But show me that you care. Take the time to choose your words. Don't put it on me to act upon the thing you did.
If it's just about a trifle, a simple “sorry” might be enough. But please consider that what you see as a small thing could mean the world to me.
Of course, I often say just “Sorry!” myself, especially in the spur of the moment, and I'm not saying you shouldn't say it at all! But when it's about something substantial, take the time to choose your words, it can mean a lot!