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.


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?

Avatar of Auriane Desombre

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: 105 Comments

  1. Avatar of Janice Way

    Janice Way

    I know like 5 people who do this and after reading this, I shared it to them.

  2. Avatar of Latonia Carter

    Latonia Carter

    #2 is important. Before you say sorry, ask yourself if it was really your fault. If someone steps on your foot and you’re the one who has to apologize, then there’s something wrong there. If there’s anyone that should be apologizing, it’s them. Most people would say that apologies equal to humility but not all the time. People are quick to assume that whoever says sorry first is the person who did something wrong, even though they didn’t. Sorry isn’t used correctly nowadays.

  3. Avatar of Jeanette Dzienis

    Words like this are invented for a reason. Let’s not use it other than it’s purpose.

  4. Avatar of Anita Von

    This isn’t healthy if it becomes a habit. It can make you feel inferior.

  5. Avatar of Louise Jones

    Louise Jones

    Unless you really did something wrong, it would be wise to stop saying sorry for no reason.

  6. Avatar of Dawn Breedlove

    Dawn Breedlove

    While it’s good to admit your fault and say sorry, don’t take it too far by apologizing for doing nothing.

  7. Avatar of Louise Jones

    Louise Jones

    Oh no I have a friend that’s like this and I always remind her not to apologize for the simplest of things.

  8. Avatar of Madison Doyle

    Madison Doyle

    Apologizing can be bad especially if it’s in the wrong context. Like the one in this article. Was it ever your fault that Netflix doesn’t do its job?

  9. Avatar of Estelle Tiana

    Even at work, you shouldn’t do this. People immediately assume that you’re a push over. Learn how to stand your ground.

  10. Avatar of Heidi Conner

    Sorry just used to be the white flag you raise. But now it’s like an act of submissiveness and weakness. Not sure how or when this happened, but it’s like apologizing makes us feel so weak when it should be the other way around. Sorry is strength, because you had the courage to say it even though you felt bad about it. Yet, people say sorry for trivial things like sneezing, and Netflix stopping, your internet connection, what else? When all the while, men won’t even say SORRY to you.

    • Avatar of Alex Prout

      Yep, sorry is the white flag in relationships but outside of that, it’s a different concept.

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