The best way to identify an insincere apology is to analyze the resulting actions. True regret inspires change. An apology without behavior correction renders the apology obsolete. A phony apology reveals selfishness and immaturity in a person.
Do us all a favor, if you're not really sorry, don't apologize. It's truly a waste of everyone's time. Anyone who has received an insincere apology knows, the whole process is a hassle. It's emotionally taxing, a roller coaster for the heart. We feel relieved, knowing the person regrets their actions, and give them a chance to redeem themselves. When the behavior doesn't change, we find ourselves feeling defeated and betrayed. Depending on the level of hurt, we often have a hard time allowing ourselves to trust anyone again. It's a destructive cycle. One I'd rather avoid.
I know I've been guilty of this very transgression. From now on, I want to make a conscious effort of really feeling remorse when I say the words "I'm sorry." I don't want to toy with anyone's emotions, tearing them apart and leaving brokenness in my wake.
People are fragile. We are so easily wounded. Even if I don't completely understand how my actions injured someone else, it's my duty as a compassionate human to do what I can to make things right.
I want to say what I mean, AND mean what I say.