How To Stop Apologizing - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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How To Stop Apologizing

Sorry to say, but if you’re like me, I bet you apologize a lot more than you realize. Here’s how to stop.

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When someone told me I say sorry too much, I decided to count how many times I apologized in a day. I expected a number around five, and I expected that to sound like a lot. So when I hit twelve, I was shocked to say the least. I apologized before I asked a question in lecture. I apologized to a friend when Netflix stopped working. I apologized to some guy on the subway when he stepped on my foot. The worst part is, he didn’t even apologize back.

As it turns out, I’m not alone. A study found that women apologize more than men, and report committing more offenses. It’s not that men are less willing to apologize, but that women find it necessary to apologize more often than men do. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stop.

How To Stop Apologizing

Over-apologizing at work can be detrimental to your career

Apologizing is often necessary, and a sincere apology can go a long way in terms of repairing a friendship and forgiving others. But if you pepper sorry into your everyday language, those sincere apologies lose their impact. Plus, over-apologizing negatively impacts your self-esteem and makes you seem smaller to others. Cutting the ever-present sorry from your speech is hard, but these techniques will help erase these unnecessary apologies:

  1. Count Your Apologies

The first step to solving any problem is recognizing you have it. Tomorrow, start counting how many times you apologize. When I did, the number certainly took me by surprise. Notice every time you say sorry throughout the day. If you’re a chronic apologizer, the word has probably infiltrated your speech to the point where you don’t even notice it slipping out.

  1. Pause And Think

Before apologizing, pause to consider whether you really need to say you’re sorry. If you’re about to ask a question, ask an employee for a favor, or smooth over an awkward situation even though you aren’t at fault, don’t apologize. You shouldn’t feel guilty for asserting yourself, so don’t let guilt seep into your language.

  1. Look For A Different Phrase

If you use “sorry” as a filler word where it doesn’t belong, take a second to find another. If you’re asking a question, replace the “sorry” with “I have a question” or “I was wondering.” If you’re trying to smooth over an awkward situation, say “excuse me” and move on. Chronic apologizers pepper “sorry” into their sentences like nervous high schoolers pepper “um” into their class presentations, so it could be that all you need to do is find another filler phrase—one that bolsters your confidence instead of tearing it down.

  1. Realize Your Worth

Over-apologizing can come from low self-esteem, especially if you use ‘sorry’ to preface questions or comments. Remind yourself of your worth and speak with confidence. You should not apologize for your existence or your feelings.

  1. Be Firm

Often, women in positions of authority apologize to soften a request in an attempt to be well-liked. But apologizing in these cases undermines your authority. Remember: you’re not “being bossy” if you’re the boss. Don’t apologize for it.

As someone who uses the word sorry like punctuation, I know how hard it can be to remove it from your everyday vocabulary. But I also know that it means I’m perpetually apologizing for participating in conversations, asking questions, and taking up space. In short, I apologize near-constantly for my existence. With these tips, I became aware it and have managed to avoid apologizing unless I’m actually in the wrong. Use them to show ‘sorry’ the door, and rebuild your speech with confidence.

Do you ever catch yourself apologizing for no reason?

Born in France but raised all over the place, Auriane has wanted to write ever since she was old enough to spell her name. In her spare time she loves reading, hanging out with her best friends (even when they're not in the same time zone), and spontaneous singing with her Broadway-bound roommate.

Reader Discussion: 84 Comments

  1. Caroline Soloviev

    What I really try to stop (but it’s hard to control yourself) is saying sorry to people asking for your money, your time… No, you earned, you can decide whatever you want to do with it, you don’t have to apologize… Do you agree?

  2. Arlene Davis

    “Why are women always apologizing?!” Thanks for answering this question 😉

  3. Koda Hansen

    Perfect! Your article makes a lot of sense. And apologizing too often is something we need to work on.

  4. Andrea Jones

    I came to a realization that I’ve been apologizing because I’m trying to get approval or get someone to like me or I’m a bit less confident of myself.

  5. Ofelia Ruley

    Thanks, Hilary! I often use I’m sorry and I have been trying to monitor and control it.

  6. Carmen Griffin

    I would recommend that you cite credible sources for topics like this…

  7. Zoraida Martin

    Well done, I always appreciate your point of view.

  8. Maria Rapier

    You left me thinking. Yeah, I find myself apologizing for things that don’t actually warrant an apology.

  9. Fascinating! Now, I’m observing myself… how many times do I apologize? 🤔

  10. Julean

    I think most women inexorably linked apologies with conception of politeness…

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