You apologise when you make mistakes. Or when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings. So why is it that we are increasingly saying sorry for other things as well? Hands up if you’re guilty of the following: Starting a sentence with the word sorry (“sorry to interrupt” or “sorry to cause you trouble but...”). You may not think much of this but the truth? Sorry, you’re putting your self-confidence in a bad place.
That’s according to sociologist Maja Jovanovic who talked about it during her TED talk in December 2018. She said that discounting one’s accomplishments and status along with an apologetic tone while speaking won’t do your self-confidence any good. And women seem to be guiltier of this.
We get it, you usually start with sorry because you want to be considerate to the person you’re dealing with, to not offend them in any way. But take a minute to consider this: If you begin a conversation with an apology, you are ultimately starting with a negative. And consistent unnecessary apologies can make you seem weak, guilty and eventually depreciate the value of your “sorry”.
Instead of apologising, Jovanovic suggests alternative phrases that are equally considerate and will also make others see you in a much better light. Instead of “I’m sorry”, use “excuse me”; instead of “sorry for bothering”, you could say “thanks for your time”.
Habitual apologising shouldn’t stop at speech but also extended to the written word. Avoid apologising in emails when something is clearly not your fault. The same applies to text messages.
Jovanovic also urges us to start helping others do the same. Spread the word to your friends and family, and ask them why they keep apologising. The answer might surprise you as Jovanovic recalls the most common answer to that question being “I don’t know”.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash