How many times a day do you say ‘sorry’? I don’t mean if you crash into someone’s car or ruin your sister’s brand new top. Those are genuinely things you should be sorry for.
I’m talking about the things we say sorry for, when we really shouldn’t be apologising at all.
Like when you accidentally bump elbows with another person or walk into your boss’ office to ask them a question. I’m guilty of saying ‘sorry’ all the time.
Last year, this Pantene advert about saying sorry went viral – and we can see why.
Yes, it’s an advert for shampoo, but they make a good point. Women are far too quick to over-use the word ‘sorry’ compared to men.
Maybe it’s because we’re British. We’re always apologising for something. It’s become a verbal tic that we can’t seem to rid from our daily conversations.
But we shouldn’t be remorseful for making a point in a work meeting or apologising when someone else bumps into you.
We’re all guilty of doing it at one point or another. Not the French though. How often do the French say désolé? Never.
Why do we feel this need to use to the word ‘sorry’ all the time? And what should we be saying instead?
You want to show empathy or compassion
When something shit happens to a close friend, how many times do you find yourself saying ‘I’m sorry that happened to you’? We can’t always apologise for the random happenings the universe throws at us.
Instead of saying: “I’m sorry your bike got stolen”
How about saying: “How frustrating that some douche bag stole your bike”
You don’t know what else to say
It’s a way of avoiding empty gaps in conversation. No one likes awkward silences. Sometimes when we’re thinking of something to say, we fill the gap with ‘sorry’.
Instead of saying: “I think we should… sorry… we should first think about how we are going to get to Chamonix.”
How about saying: “We should…. [Pause] first thing about how we are going to get to Chamonix.”
You want to seem agreeable and not too forceful
Saying sorry sometimes softens the blow. When you want to say something that might not sit well with the other person, you often begin the sentence with ‘Sorry but…’
Instead of saying: “Sorry but I really don’t think we should do that”
How about saying: “I don’t think we should do that”
You want to interrupt
It’s similar to the point above. You want to butt into a conversation, but you want to do it politely. So you feel the only think you can say is ‘sorry’ to apologise for your interjection.
Instead of saying: “Sorry to interrupt…”
How about saying: “I just want to add….”
We think you should challenge yourself this week. Spend one day without saying ‘sorry’ once. You’re only allowed to say it if you really mean it. Otherwise, it’s banned from your vocabulary.
Ultimately, no one wants the word ‘sorry’ to have less meaning. On the flip side, you shouldn’t be apologising for things that aren’t your fault. Let us know how you get on.