Sorry, I’m Not Sorry for Being Sorry

I recently spent my Friday night in a crowded bar waiting to hear the Indie rock band, Eastern Shore, with an amazing view of Washington D.C. People were pushing and sliding past almost every second of the performance, and with every nudge, bump, or impasse I would mutter, “Oh, I’m sorry!”  After the thirty millionth time of this, my best friend finally turned to me and said, “What are YOU sorry for? They’re running into YOU”. I realized then, that apologizing had become a habit for me, and that sometimes I wasn’t sorry but would say it anyway because it sounded appropriate.


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Turns out, I may not be the only one that apologizes too much. In two studies performed by Karina Schumann at the University of Waterloo, as featured on Live Science, it was found that women apologized more than men. No, it’s not because men are unapologetic. It seems as though women have a larger idea of what is offensive. According to the study, women have a “lower threshold for what requires an apology” [read: we say sorry more, because we feel like we’ve done something that requires an apology more].


Now, not all women apologize like it’s their job. I just happen to be one of them. Whether you’re an over apologizer like me or not, there are a couple of things you can take away from this study.

1. There is a difference between the way men and women communicate. Perhaps something that you think deserves an apology doesn’t even occur as an offense to a male counterpart.  It can be hard, especially in the heat of the moment, to see where someone else is coming from, but it is important to remember that everyone has a different perspective.  It is not necessarily that a man cares less about your feelings, or about offending you, but perhaps what occurred isn’t something they considered offensive.


2. Take the time to think about why you’re apologizing. I find that I apologize out of habit, or to not necessarily take responsibility, but to apologize that something happened in general. I’ve found that I say, “Oh, I’m sorry” as a shortened version of “Oh, I’m sorry that happened to you”.


I, personally, am going to try and cut back on my use of “sorry”. Not because I care less about offending anyone, but because I want the weight of my “sorry” to mean something, and not because I’m saying it out of habit.

Additionally, there’s a lot of recent hype surrounding how excessive apologizing in the workplace can be detrimental and doing so less can even have psychological benefits.

So try cutting back on the apologies. It’ll give you a chance to expand your vocabulary and find better words to use in place of  ”sorry.”


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