I have a weird relationship with the phrase, “I’m sorry.” Whenever I’m told to say it, or it feels “necessary” to say it… I don’t want to and a lot of times I flat out won’t (guess my zodiac sign.) The times I typically can be found saying sorry are when it’s unnecessary – i.e. when it makes no sense and adds zero quality points to a conversation or interaction.
But I’ve been on a mission for the last couple of years to evolve the whole “I’m sorry” phrase out of my vocab.
Me to me:
Examples of some unnecessary “I’m sorry” phrases:
- “I’m sorry for the delay!” -> try: “Thank you for your patience!”
- “I’m sorry, but this isn’t what I ordered…” -> try: “Unfortunately, this isn’t what I ordered…”
- “I’m sorry, but I was wondering…” -> try: “Excuse me, quick question…”
- “So sorry I’m late!” -> try: “I seriously appreciate you waiting on me!”
Examples of necessary times to say “I’m sorry”:
- Never -> If you did something wrong, figure out a better way to apologize. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.
“I’m sorry” is a weak phrase.
It’s just a surface scratcher to something deeper and, to put it simply, a way to deflect. There is always something way better to be said in place of an “I’m sorry.” I mean, how many times has someone used that phrase and you actually felt better or you felt like it promoted a more positive tone to the environment? Saying, “I’m sorry” is a reactional “oof” to a situation. It conveys how uncomfortable you are and even your distress… in turn, causing you to lose your power.
I’m not sure how one activates cancel culture but can we just get “I’m sorry” cancelled already?
Sure, this article might indeed be coming from a stubborn Taurus who will go above and beyond to avoid saying “I’m sorry,” but let’s seriously think about this. When has a simple sorry fixed anything? When has saying, “I’m sorry, I have a question” shown confidence?
The best apologies that change a situation are ones that come from the heart and are followed with action. And in turn, an aimless “I’m sorry” in email correspondence or for running late, etc. is useless. It’s useless because you’ve probably said “I’m sorry” so many times before that it has lost any and all sincerity it could have (maybe) once possessed. A little secret – the chronic apologizing also creates this weird mini pity party for yourself where the person on the receiving end feels the need to say, “Oh, no worries!” or some other response in an effort to try to make you feel better… and that’s kind of messed up.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a weird history with “I’m sorry.” I hate using it when I’ve done something that calls for an apology, usually getting away with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Which yeah, is not a real apology, but didn’t we already agree that “I’m sorry” is fake anyway you strew it? I’m a tragic half-assed verbal apologizer, but my real apology lies in my actions that follow the confrontation. (I know there should be a balance, but I’m working on it okay?!)
Now, in terms of the weird history I have of the “I’m sorry” overuse, I am still training myself out of over apologizing. I have come a long way, but there are still times when I’m writing up an email and have to actively catch myself and rephrase. Not to mention during face-to-face interactions, I’ll find myself at times biting my tongue to catch an “I’m sorry” and quickly rephrase what I had planned to say.
Deciding to change a behavior and actively implementing the change is an uphill battle, but it’s a gratifying one.