One of my friends always says “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t matter what I say, but for whatever her reasons are, she only answers with sorry. I realize that it’s probably because she just doesn’t know what to say, but I also have come to feel the frustration that comes with hearing the same response all the time. That’s when I began to think about why people say that they’re sorry, and I’ve come to realize that it’s probably one of the most over-used words. Why is it that we are at a loss for words, that we turn to an expression that is used to show sympathy or to apologize?
Sorry is defined as feeling regret, sadness, and pity. The last thing that I want to feel is pity from anyone, but it still doesn’t answer the reason why sorry is so often overused. It’s a reflex that sends the wrong message. It’s not said that when we need to own up to being responsible for our actions, we rely on saying sorry to fill the gap of awkwardness when being told of news that affects someone else. Sorry finds its way into statements that don’t have anything to do with feeling remorse. One of the most concerning issues is that apologizing too much can lead to a person sounding insincere.
As a strategy for being polite, sorry has become the go-to word for keeping the peace without sounding too passive-aggressive. By changing to words such as thank you, we immediately can change the tone of our message to one that is positive. Apologizing for simply existing isn’t enough. Instead, changing the words we use can make a difference in our conversations and our relationships with each other is more beneficial, and what is meant to be. Rather than staying in the habit of saying sorry, we can practice using words that give real meaning to what we are feeling and putting the unnecessary apologies away for when they are most needed.
Over-apologizing has become a common way of reacting to those around us. What many may not realize is how we lessen its meaning and its value, the more that we say we’re sorry. It can also show low-esteem and that we fear confrontation. Remembering that unless we have done something that is our fault, finding words that express what the other person may need, such as encouragement, could be the better option than saying I’m sorry.