As much as I like any chance to quote JB I am posing a serious question. How many times in a day do you say ‘sorry!’ ? How many times do you apologise for something that a) doesn’t require one, b)is something that wasn’t you fault, or c) just because you don’t know what else to say?
My parents brought me up to be polite. The say please and thank you and be courteous of others. I also learnt to apologise when I was wrong and try to do my best by those around me. For me now the power of sorry has gone. People who should say it don’t or wont and when we do find the word slipping from our mouths it’s usually to someone who should be saying it to us.
Feel free to disagree with me here but these are circumstancing in which I find myself apologising before I can stop myself.
Scenario 1 – When someone holds the door for me.
I’m getting better at this by saying ‘thank you’ first. Aside from the corridor etiquette of door holding (how many meters is sufficient to shut the door in someone’s face?) I find myself apologising for holding them up in their quest to me polite.
Scenario 2 – When starting a conversation with someone I haven’t spoken to for a while.
“Sorry I’ve not been in touch” – like hell am I, emails, texts and phone calls work both ways right!
Scenario 3 – I apologise for being polite.
“Sorry, excuse me, may I, please could you, sorry” I’m just throwing the word about here. If you are blocking a pavement and I want to get by ‘excuse me’ is adequate. I find myself apologising for being an inconvenience to others.
How to tell if ‘Sorry’ really is necessary.
In order to make this a balanced argument one feels the need to list the instances where ‘sorry’ is never too late and often the only word with any power. Three examples to think about before dropping the ‘s-bomb’.
Example 1 – Have done something which has caused pain, harm, or upset to another person?
If you’ve intentionally harmed another person (well you probably aren’t that bothered about apologising if you are that kind of person) or if you find out a person has been distressed by your actions or words it’s time to break out the apology. How would you feel if you had had it done to you?
Example 2 – Are you speaking to a friend or colleague who has lost a person they care about?
When a loved one dies there really isn’t a word or phrase apart from ‘I’m so sorry’ here we aren’t apologising because their death was our fault (hopefully not anyway) we are using the word to offer comfort and empathy. There really is no other word that fits the bill in these situation.
Note – apologising when someone is diagnosed with an illness is shaky ground for me. It can be perceived as patronising just as much as it can been seen as comforting. The best response in this situation is to ask about the future plans. Futures are naturally more positive and hope is always on the horizon. If it’s a terminal illness the future is still an important topic. You have not given them the illness (hopefully!) and you aren’t to blame for it. Read the situation. Be mindful of others.
Example 3 – Are you talking to your mom?
In my experience if you mom asks you if you’ve done something and I haven’t, apologise. If she drops the ‘d-bomb’ and says she is disappointed, then you really need to bring out the big guns. More often than not our Mama’s like a good, honest and sincere apology. They brought us up to be mindful of others so be mindful of them. Plus the chances are an argument with you mom really isn’t worth it if you can just apologise and both get on with you day.
Keep a tally of all the times you apologise in a day. How many times did you say it because you were wrong and how many time did you say it because you didn’t know what else to say?