Sorry Not Sorry

There are many ways women communicate different from men. One of those ways is “I’m sorry.”  I’m not talking about when you make an error and say “I’m sorry.” I’m talking about using it at times that don’t really require an apology. Here are some examples:

  • Sorry to bother you…
  • Sorry, I have a quick question.
  • Sorry, do you have that information for me yet?
  • I’m sorry, but this isn’t what I ordered.
  • Sorry, but can you turn that music down?
  • Sorry, can I scoot by?
  • Sorry, but can you help me?
  • Sorry! (when SOMEONE ELSE bumps into you)

The issue isn’t with the word itself. It’s the meaning behind it. We often use “sorry” as a filter to mean “I’m not trying to be aggressive” or “I’m not nagging.” It can say to people that you feel uncomfortable asserting authority or aren’t confident in your decisions and actions. No matter the good intention, it starts the interaction off on a negative foot by you assuming the role the role of an unwanted interruption.

You’re not unwanted. You’re not nagging. It’s okay to assert yourself.

One of the worst side-effects of “I’m sorry” is that it affects you physically too. We often say “sorry” with bad posture: scrunching your body down, raised shoulders like you’re bracing for something, fluttering eyes, tight mouth or gritted teeth… overall nervous behavior.

“Sorry” can sometimes come off as passive-aggressive, too. I’ve even seen it used when insulting someone. “Sorry, but that outfit is terrible!”

There are many occasions in which to say “sorry.” Apologies are for mistakes that cause someone some kind of harm (some mistakes don’t affect anyone, like making a grammar error, for which a simple “Let me correct that.” will do). “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I’m sorry you don’t feel well” are appropriately used to show empathy. But consider positive statements too, like, “Your grandmother must have been a wonderful lady” or “I hope you feel better soon.”

Some other ways you can drop “I’m sorry”:

  • Do you mind if I interrupt?
  • Thank you for your patience/time.
  • Do you have time to talk?
  • Will you help me with something?
  • It looks like there was a mixup – this isn’t the meal I ordered.
  • Excuse me.

You can still be considerate and kind, while remaining strong, ask for what you need, and assert yourself when appropriate.

I think this sums up the message pretty well:


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