Do you say “sorry” too much?
What to say instead
March 23, 2019
Via TED: "When we needlessly apologize, we end up making ourselves small and diminish what we’re trying to express, says sociologist Maja Jovanovic. [...]
Jovanovic, who teaches at McMaster University and Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, became interested in this topic when she attended a conference four years ago. The four women on a panel were, she says, 'experts in their chosen fields. Among them, they had published hundreds of academic articles, dozens of books. All they had to do was introduce themselves. The first woman takes a microphone and she goes, ‘I don’t know what I could possibly add to this discussion’ … The second woman takes the microphone and says, ‘Oh my gosh, I thought they sent the email to the wrong person. I’m just so humbled to be here.’' The third and fourth women did the same thing.
During the 25 panels at that week-long conference, recalls Jovanovic, 'not once did I hear a man take that microphone and discount his accomplishments or minimize his experience. Yet every single time a woman took a microphone, an apologetic tone was sure to follow.' She adds, 'I found it enraging; I also found it heartbreaking.' [...]
We can eliminate the sorrys from our sentences — and still be considerate. The next time you bump into someone, Jovanovic says, 'you could say, ‘Go ahead,’ ‘After you’ or ‘Pardon me.’ Similarly, during a meeting, Jovanovic says, 'instead of saying, ‘Sorry to interrupt you,’ why not try ‘How about,’ ‘I have an idea,’ ‘I’d like to add’ or ‘Why don’t we try this?’ The idea is to be polite while not minimizing yourself.
The sorrys that fill our written interactions also need to be noticed — and banished. For emails, Jovanovic says, 'There’s a Google Chrome plug-in called just not sorry that will alert you to all the needless apologies.' With texts, she points out, 'Every single one of us has responded to a text you got when you weren’t able to respond right away. What did you say? ‘Sorry.’' She says, 'Don’t apologize — say, ‘I was working,’ ‘I was reading,’ ‘I was driving, ‘I was trying to put on Spanx.’ Whatever it is, it’s all good. You don’t have to apologize.'
And, in some of the instances when we’d typically throw in a sorry, we could just use the two magic words: thank you.