Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”!

“I’m sorry, but can I ask you a question?”
“I’m sorry, I just need to grab that.”
“I’m sorry, but can I see the menu?”
“I’m sorry, but I really didn’t like it.”

If I were to ask you if these statements came from a male or female, what would be your guess?

My guess is that you guessed female, and I’m sorry to break it to you, but you would be right. There we go again. Apologizing for things that need no apologizing for. We need to urgently let go of this unproductive habit. Those two words demonstrate that from the get go we are subconsciously believing that we are inconveniencing the world with our presence. That everyone else’s time has more value than ours. That our opinions and our voice merits no attention as a standalone action without an initial disclaimer. If you research studies on why women tend to over apologize for things you’ll find varying opinions on this, so I’m not here to explain the why portion. Especially because there is no solid, singular reason that would encompass all women. The fact remains that it happens, and it happens more with us women. So, in essence, each one of us needs to ask the questions and urgently analyze our inner selves for the answer.

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Do you feel that apologizing is a demonstration of being polite? Politeness is definitely something we need to teach children, but if you are a parent of both boys and girls, do you teach them politeness any differently? If you are a teacher, do you remind your students to be polite but teach that it should be displayed differently depending on their gender? The overwhelming answer here would be, and should be no. And hopefully your own parents or teachers didn’t either. Note that men aren’t any less polite than women just because they don’t start off with an apology. Remind yourself that YOU can be polite without the apology. Try it…. “Hi, can I ask you a question?”; “Excuse me for interrupting, but there’s someone on the phone for you and it’s urgent.”; “Thank you for the suggestion, but it really wasn’t to my liking.” Polite statements without apologies are actually more effective for both parties.

Do you feel you disclaim with an apology as a form of respect? Back in the days of Kings and in some cultures even today, kneeling before a person of power was a respectful show of reverence and submission. I’ll take a wild guess here and say that you would never kneel before your boss. I’ll also take a wild guess and say that most of the men in your professional surroundings are not showing a lack of respect for their higher-ups every time they address them without an apologetic intro. You can hold someone in high regard and appreciation and still get your point across sans the “I’m sorry” portion of the program. Try it“Mr. Robinson, can I have a few minutes of your time to share with you my findings after analyzing the monthly financial reports?”; “Your Honor, yes, you would be correct in that statement.”; “Unfortunately Sir, the meeting had to be rescheduled. Let me know what’s your next available time to meet.” Each are strong respectful statements without minimizing the speakers confidence. Which then takes us to….

Maybe you’re apologizing due to a lack of confidence? This would be definitely the strongest of contenders of why you find yourself apologizing for practically everything. Once, I found myself even apologizing to the dog. The dog! When you introduce your ideas, your opinions, your needs with an apology, you give off the feeling that you are unsure or undeserving of the other parties attention or consideration. You give away power where none should have been allotted. This one is gong to take more time to help shift in a different direction since lack of confidence or a low sense of esteem is most likely rooted to deeper issues. But no need to apologize for that! You can still work on this by noticing or catching yourself each time you happen to apologize to others for things that didn’t require one. By becoming hyper aware of this habit, you gain the opportunities to understand the individual situations and why it triggered you to apologize in the first place. You take the moment back with you and you get to analyze things on your own time. I promise you… It works! When I started to notice WHEN I was biting my nails, with time I was able to find ways to stop myself when those same type of moments surfaced, hence slowly I broke the habit. You’re training your subconscious to notice before you do.

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Don’t rush your progress, be patient, but definitely prioritize this. By eventually letting go of this habit, you gain back control, you become more positive, more influential, you start to build confidence in both yourself and in how others should treat you. You’ll start feeling like a true participant in life as opposed to a burden. You’ll start holding others accountable and not sacrificing yourself for the sake of everyone else’s comfort. You’ll become your very own success story, one that deserves a “THANK YOU” and not an “I’m sorry”.

— The Pretty Platform



10 thoughts

  1. Oh my gosh! My Mom says this all the time! I am definitely going to show her your post and maybe, just maybe, she will finally be on her path to changing her verbiage. Thank you for this!!

  2. Ugh I say this ALL THE TIME! It really is a hard habit to break but I can certainly make my te of a conscious effort. I say it as a way of being polite but I know my husband and friends get annoyed with it. I know it comes across as lacking confidence or that I’m trying not to I conveninev anyone. This is a great Resolution for the month of March for me!

  3. Totally guilty, and so is my sister. We talk about this often! I do think, in my case, that sometimes “I’m sorry/sorry” is a way to say “excuse me.” Like, “Sorry, can I get by you?” But I also know women seem to do this more than men. I’ve been trying to make an effort to use different words, for sure! Good post!

  4. “Those two words demonstrate that from the get go we are subconsciously believing that we are inconveniencing the world with our presence. That everyone else’s time has more value than ours. That our opinions and our voice merits no attention as a standalone action without an initial disclaimer.“ THIS!!!!! 🙌🏻🙌🏻 I love this explanation—it resonates so much with me—and I also love how you provide examples of statements that are just as polite without being so unnecessarily deferential. So much better than just shaming women for saying “sorry” so often—I see that a lot, and what good does that do?

  5. Very interesting! I do say that frequently, but haven’t really thought about the reason behind it. I think it has to do with the idea of respect.. great post!

  6. I’ve really got to break myself of this habit, because I’m passing it on to my son. He’s started saying sorry for everything, even things that are silly to say sorry for, and I know he’s getting it from me. Kids are such a mirror!

  7. Wonderful! Your blog caught my eye – because for some reason – now that I happen to chat online for instance – I recognised in print – that I often would put sorry. I have now been stopping that. I find it actually makes the other person think you are not confident. Confidence placed rightly – sells. So now “I’m not sorry” that it’s missing out of my written word. 🙂 !

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