ILLUSTRATION: I'm Sorry
(Photo Source: Bay Area News Group/MCT)

I’m sorry, but it’s time we stop apologizing.

There’s often a compulsive urge to apologize for things that most definitely do not merit an apology. Stopping the habitual use of saying sorry is important. We need to realize we are able to be polite and successful communicators without being submissive and apologizing for things we have every right to be doing.

Saying sorry is a crutch that we lean on when we don’t want to be identified as harsh when we are making a statement. It’s a hedge, a way to put guard rails on what you are going to say next. It is a space filler to give the listener time to put themselves in a position above you.

“Sorry” has become one of those undesirable words such as “like” or “umm.” When used in moderation, no one really notices. But use them too frequently and it hinders your communication. It becomes a prop we use when we are unsure of how to continue or create a dialogue.

Being self-deprecating and apologizing constantly does not make you more humble. We can be honest and kind and get what we want without being meek or, on the opposite end, being arrogant.

Why is it that our instinct is to interject by saying, “Sorry, but I have a question” when something along the lines of, “Excuse me, but I have a question” is just as polite? Apology not accepted. When you need to ask something, there should be no shame, so don’t be sorry!

You should never feel sorry for doing your job, promoting yourself, standing firm on your beliefs, asking for a raise or even canceling plans.

Women especially are conditioned to feel ashamed for simple and everyday tasks.  We don’t want to appear difficult, unlikable or bossy, so we over-apologize.

Here’s the problem: A perpetually-apologetic stance indicates inadequacy and a lack of self-confidence. Ultimately, it can be perceived as weakness and it can result in coworkers and superiors losing respect for you.

Apologizing isn’t fundamentally bad, but it is rarely as necessary as we seem to think it is. Suppressing the apology reflex can be easier said than done. A good starting point is just to become aware of how often you say the word. After that, you can examine how you use it.

Ask yourself what you are apologizing for. Is it for seeking out information? Accurate information is important, would it be better for everyone if you didn’t ask questions and just guessed? Is it for interrupting or bothering someone?  If so, consider thanking the person at the end of the conversation instead of opening with an unnecessary apology.

Saying sorry for an apology-worthy offense should still be rightly expected. But only say it when you do something wrong and truly need forgiveness.

Most of us want to be likable and confident and we want others to think that of us. Apologizing too often makes us seem unsure and defensive. Instead of softening your words, claim your strength, assert it and allow others to recognize it. Appreciating your worth is nothing to apologize for.

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