Apologetic language floods our day to day conversations so much that it is beginning to lose meaning, value, and sincerity. We say “sorry” so often that we are probably unaware of exactly how often we use it. Being convinced of this commonplace occurrence, I spent an entire day counting “sorrys” to validity this hunch. Although I lost count, or perhaps interest at around 20, I came to realize that more often than not we apologize when we really shouldn’t. Saying sorry can be a dangerous miscommunication hiding what we are really trying to express.
7 Things we Apologize for and Why we Should Stop
- Our Personal Appearance. Sorry my hair is messy. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone. Does our appearance really warrant an apology? Is it offending anyone? Likely, it isn’t. When we apologize for appearance we are essentially saying that the way that we look isn’t good enough for the company we are with. Sorry and being embarrassed are two different things.
- Our bodily functions. Sorry I am sweaty, but I just went for a run. Really? When we apologize for sweat, we are suggestion that our body functioning correctly is negative. It doesn’t seem like this is something we should be sorry about. Rather, we should be celebrating our good health.
- Disagreeing in conversation. I am sorry, but I Apologizing for a different opinion suggests that having your own thoughts has a negative connotation. Since when did diversity become a bad thing? Perhaps, we could just respectfully disagree and enjoy the good conversation.
- Other People’s Emotions. I am sorry you’re mad. Apologizing for people’s emotions suggests that we have some level of control over them. Wouldn’t that be cool if we did? Maybe, not. Sometime we behave in certain ways that induces a particular action, but that is not to say that we caused the particular emotion. People are in charge and have control on their own individual response regardless of the action. For instance, let’s say you chose to not do the dishes and your spouse comes home to a sink full of dishes. You see their anger and then apologize. They could react in a variety of ways: laugh, tell you to do them, ignore them, or do the dishes with no reaction at all. The point is that despite what you did, the individual is responsible for their emotion, not you. The same can be said for positive emotions…
- Other People’s Behaviors. I am sorry that my Dad is so blunt. You have zero control over the behaviors around you, except your own. Apologizing on someone’s behalf suggests that you have done something. We can feel embarrassed, sad, or even angry for other’s behavior, but they are not ours to apologize for.
- Our emotional state. I am sorry that I am talking so fast. It’s just that I am really excited. Or, I am sorry I am not happy. I am having a bad day. Own them, own them, own them. I will say it again, own your emotions! If you want to change how you feel, than do it. If not, don’t excuse them, embrace them.
- Our Oddities. I am sorry that I am being so weird. So you are a bit “out there”, or “totally out there”, that’s great! Don’t apologize for being yourself because you would feel really sorry if you weren’t.
We often apologize for things that we have zero control over, or about things that don’t warrant an apology whatsoever. We should strive to embrace our eclecticism, and celebrate our individuality, not apologize for it. When we express regret for things that we aren’t really sorry about, our apologies lose sincerity. Think about that for a minute. How much is someone’s apology worth when only 10 minutes prior they apologized about the messiness of their hair? If you are finding that people don’t respond to your apologies, try to save the “sorry” for when it really counts and say what is really on your mind.
What do you apologize for that you shouldn’t? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.