Why We Need to Stop Apologizing So Much

 

How many times a day do we say the word “sorry”? Personally, I hear and say that word so many times each day it's as if the word spits itself out, capitalizing on my filterless mouth and making an appearance in the most mundane moments. While flippant apologies can seem disingenuous when used to dismiss irritating behavior or unacceptable rhetoric (I’m looking at you, every politician ever), excessive apologizing can be just as damaging.

 

“I’m sorry”. We use the apologetic expression in many scenarios, but before we dish out the tear-filled looks and remorseful words, we should ask ourselves what it is we’re apologizing for. In some instances, an apology is certainly justified and even necessary, like when knocking over someone on the street. But when we start appropriating the use of ‘sorry’ for things like taking your time on a test or having a bad hair day, we start to become habituated to its unnecessary use. Getting so used to those three syllables tumbling out our mouths can be dangerous and damaging to self-confidence.

 

Saying “I’m Sorry” is also often misused as a means of gratitude. When we are thankful someone has completed a task that was potentially meant for us, we jump at the chance to apologize and justify our failure to do it. But before you apologize to your partner about forgetting to fold that pesky pile of laundry, thank them instead for stepping up to a task that needed attention.

Additionally, being overly apologetic can have occupational consequences. While many of us would rather be revered as polite and respectful rather than dismissive or selfish, there are scenarios and individuals who interpret an apology as a sign of weakness. And while admitting simple mistakes shouldn't be viewed as such a power diminishing move, being overly apologetic can be conflated with vulnerability and uncertainty-- a confusion that could be detrimental in professional settings.

So before you blurt out that apologetic word vomit, ask yourself these questions;

  • Did my actions harm another person, physical or otherwise?

  • Did my actions infringe on the perception of my character?

  • Did I perform actions with a malicious intention?

  • Will interactions and relationships be damaged without an apology?

  • Will an apology reduce my agency and authority as an individual?

 

Or, get rid of the unnecessary sorry-ness all together and go for these phrases instead:

  • Say “Thank you” instead

  • Explain frustration or other emotions that resulted in your behavior. Your feelings are valid -- keep that in mind! 

  • Own your mistake and promise yourself to do better next time

  • Instead of using “sorry” to interrupting a meeting and voice an opinion, use “excuse me” or “I want to add”

  • A simple “Okay” does the trick more often than not

It's easy to slip into the habit of apologizing for everything. Hopefully, these tips will help you stop the next unnecessary "I'm sorry" before it tumbles out of your mouth -- or at least replace it with something much more effective. 

Sources: 1,

Pictures: 1, 2