A 2017 Vice article explored how apologizing too much could be a sign of anxiety. It explained how many people, especially women, find themselves apologizing all the time, whether they are at fault or not.
So do you often find yourself apologizing for things that do not even warrant an apology in the first place? It is one thing to apologize for coming in late for work, but it is a completely different thing to apologize for asking a question, or worse, for apologizing too much!
A University of Waterloo study found that women apologize a lot more frequently than men. The study found that this is because society has a lower threshold for what is considered offensive behavior in women.
Women apologize for all sorts of reasons. Some do it as a sign of politeness. Others do it just to fill a silence. Yet others do it to compensate for something else, whatever that may be. A lot of women, though, may not even realize that they are apologizing too much in the first place.
Unfortunately, apologizing for no legitimate reason only does more harm than good to you. It makes you appear weaker, less confident, and less authoritative. It also signals the people around you that you can be easily taken advantage of. All of this is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve when you apologize.
Therefore, if you want to get your power and confidence back, the best way to do so is to stop saying “I’m sorry.” Here’s how to do that:
Only apologize when you need to
The first step is to stop saying sorry for everything. Only apologize when you need to. Say sorry when offering condolences for death, when you’ve genuinely hurt someone, when you’ve made a mistake, or when you are at fault for an accident. These are the only situations that warrant an apology.
Recognize situations where you do not have to be sorry
What situations do you not have to apologize for? You need to recognize these situations if you are going to stop saying sorry. For any situation where you’d typically apologize, take a pause and offer no response first. Think before you speak.
Own your decisions
Ask yourself this; why should you apologize for your decisions? If your decisions are legal and they do not hurt anyone else, you don’t have to apologize for them. Don’t apologize for what you choose to wear, for being in the way, or for speaking your mind. If you have kids, don’t apologize for making decisions that are good for them even if they don’t like those decisions. Make up your mind and stand by your decisions and everyone around you will respect you more for it.
Replace sorry with different words.
Please. Excuse me. Thank you. These words are enough to replace almost every instance where you’d typically say “I’m sorry.” Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, would you walk the dog?”, say “Please walk the dog.” If you are in a restaurant, instead of saying, “I’m sorry, this isn’t what I ordered”, say “Excuse me, this isn’t what I ordered.” When you get some constructive criticism at work, instead of saying “I’m sorry” and trying to come up with excuses, simply say, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
It might seem like a simple thing, but it can be quite difficult for a lot of women to stop saying “I’m sorry.” A lot of times, it’s a phrase that’s said so much that it almost becomes part of who you are. Luckily, with a bit of work and the tips outlined above, you should be able to break the habit. And your entire life will be better for it.