- “Sorry I’m late.”
- “Sorry I didn’t call.”
- “Sorry about the mess.”
- “Oh, sorry!”
Enough already. Of course, sometimes a genuine sorry is exactly what’s needed. But I’m referring to all the times when sorry becomes excessive… unwarranted… over the top.
What in the world would a public bus be sorry for? That it’s winter? That’s you have to step out onto slush?
Have you ever wished someone would stop saying sorry so much? Maybe (like I did) you realize you’re the one constantly saying it.
Whether it’s intentional or not, if we’re consistently spewing the word, it tends to lose its effectiveness.
It can also make us look guilty, even if we’re not.
Since getting a new job, I realize I’ve been apologizing for things I don’t know and things I don’t need to be sorry for.
- “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how many houses we build at a time.”
- “Sorry—I don’t know who the board members are yet.”
- “Wait, sorry, but what does the IV after Habitat for Humanity mean?”
- “Oh, sorry. Am I in charge of that?”
- “Sorry, but I have another question.”
- “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what to tell the lady whose mobile home is splitting down the middle.”
I’m five weeks new. How would I be expected to already know those things?
Last week I walked into my boss’s office and said, “Sorry to interrupt, but I have those files you wanted.”
Why did I feel the need to apologize for interrupting her (for three seconds) when I held something she wanted?
A new ah-ha moment hit me when one of my friends said, “My husband’s sorrys came so frequently that the word lost its weight. I finally told him I didn’t believe him anymore.”
In an effort to not be accused of the same thing, I’m working on trading sorry for thank you.
- Instead of, “Sorry I’m late.”
- Switch to, “Thanks for your patience.”
- Instead of, “Sorry about the mess.”
- Switch to, “Welcome to the organized chaos!”
- Instead of, “I’m sorry, but this isn’t hot” to a waiter,
- Switch to, “Could you please bringing me a hot one?”
- Next time you bump into someone, try “Excuse me” instead of “Sorry.”
- Instead of, “Sorry I missed that.”
- Switch to, “Oops—thanks for catching that.”
- Instead of, “Sorry my car’s such a disaster.”
- Switch to, “Just toss that in the back.”
- Instead of, “Sorry I haven’t called.”
- Switch to, “I’ve been thinking about you!”
- Instead of, “Sorry you had to drive me home.”
- Switch to, “Thanks for the ride!”
- Instead of, “Sorry I haven’t showered. For three days.”
- Switch to, “I’m saving water,” or, “I found the best dry shampoo!”
Putting it Into Practice
Last weekend I ended up in urgent care after I tipped a wooden bar stool over and landed it on the tops of both bare feet.
And no, I wasn’t drinking.
To confirm I didn’t break a metatarsal or phalange (those are fun to say), I got sent to a nurse, an X-ray technician and a doctor. I immediately felt sorry for them that they all had to work on Sunday.
But instead of rubbing it in and saying sorry, I decided to work up the courage to implement my new plan. After six quick X-rays, I looked at the technician and said, “Thanks for working on a Sunday.”
I realize she might not have had a choice, but my comment took her back a bit… in a good way.
I thought I’d continue with the doctor, so before I hobbled out on my heels I said the same thing. She smiled, said, “Oh, you’re welcome,” and actually looked happy to be there.
And again a few days ago: I took 16 days to email a friend back and desperately wanted to start off with a big fat “Sorry!”
Instead, I lead with this: “Thanks for your patience with my slow reply.”
And then of course I felt the need to explain what took me so long, but that’s a different story.
Help a Sistah Out
Are you a teeth friend? When someone gets spinach, chia seeds or espresso beans caught in their incisors, do you tell them? What about lipstick or gloss on their teeth?
If you’re friends, the answer is yes!
Now if someone points out the same thing on your teeth, are you prone to say sorry or thank you? There’s nothing to apologize for, but plenty to be thankful for.
Guilty vs. Grateful
Unnecessary guilt. I’m thinking we could all use a little less of it.
Acting guilty about something you’re not guilty of can cause exhaustion. Don’t you think, as a society, we’re all tired enough?
Try responding with only “thank you” when someone tells you there’s lettuce/kale/chard in your teeth and see how it feels. Showing gratitude for something takes the focus off the negative and lets it rest squarely on the positive.
I’m still a messy work in progress. Ready to join me? Try trading sorry for thank you and then tell me what happened in the comments.
- How did you feel?
- Did it seem awkward or natural?
- Did you feel more positive? Confident? Grateful?
“I love where I come from. The people there are good people. When they say, ‘Thank you,’ they mean it.” -Luke Perry