This morning, I had two people say sorry to me, all in the space of two minutes. The first time, I was heading towards the water cooler, my water bottle tucked under my arm. A lady was there, filling her 2 litre bottle. It was almost full, yet she turned to me and said “Sorry”.
“It’s okay”, I said, in a forced cheery voice. But it was a bit awkward. I felt like I was admitting that she had wronged me. I mean she got there first, why did she need to apologise? I pondered this as I made my way back to my desk. I was deep in thought when I got to the doors leading to the stairway. Another lady was coming through and as she held the door out to me, she said, “sorry”. I looked at her face, trying to catch her expression, she looked away. It was even more awkward. I just nodded.
A couple of days ago, my husband was trying to get Joanna (my 3 year old daughter) to stop saying sorry. She was saying sorry for everything. I remember thinking, “I hope that doesn’t backfire.” I understood what he meant, but what if she didn’t?
She would tap me on the shoulder.
“Mummy!” tap, tap.
“Yes, Joanna, what is it.” I would drop what I’m doing to give her my attention.
“I’m sorry I dropped the cushion.”
“Okay honey, just pick it up. It’s fine.”
“Okay, mummy,” she would reply, a big smile on her face. I would smile back and say,
“Aww, you’re too cute!”
Are you smiling yet? Okay, now imagine, a similar scene replaying five times in less than 10 minutes. I bet you would be frustrated.
Oh wait! I do it too! Especially at work.
“Em, Nick, I’m sorry to bother you…” 99.7% of the time, I’m not really sorry. I’m supposed to bother you, it’s my job and it’s called chasing up.
“Sorry for taking you away from your work…” when I already have their attention.
“Sorry for waking you up honey, but you need to get ready.” Now this one, lol, no way I’m sorry.
Or the classic, you send your husband on an errand, and then you say sorry. It’s like, who are you kidding.
So I did a Google search on ‘Saying sorry too much’ and it turns out, it’s a big problem, especially with women. Seriously, some men can be so unapologetic (apart from my husband, of course :-)). One man refused to stop for me at a mini-roundabout some time ago; it was my right of way. I honked at him, expecting an apologetic wave, instead I got his middle finger >Ooh<. Another time, a man bumped into me on the escalators at Liverpool street station. I stumbled and held on tight to the railing, I looked up and guess what I said? “Sorry.” Just thinking about it makes me cringe. The man just kept walking up the escalators, no backward glance to check I was okay, nothing.
If you have some time, head on over to this page. The gist is, you count how many times you say “sorry” throughout the day. It helps you to be conscious of how often you say it and why. I’m going to go one step further. Work with me on this, you can make use of the Feelings Chart below for this exercise.
- I want you to think about that time you said sorry, when you didn’t need to. How did I make you feel? How did it make the other person feel? Write it down
- Now think about the time you said sorry when it was the other person’s fault. How did it make you feel? Did they apologise back? Or did they let you take all the blame?
3.Think about the time you accidentally did something wrong. Did you apologise? How did it make you feel? For example, the other day, I narrowly missed a woman and her son passing behind my car as I was reversing out of the driveway. I was racked with guilt and shame (my driving is perfect!) and chased after them to apologise. I felt relief when I did. It felt good.Image Source
Now, think about the time you deliberately did something wrong (maybe not deliberately but it wasn’t completely accidental-you knew it was wrong before you did it). How easy was it for you to actually say sorry? Not a fake apology, one you meant?
Not very easy, was it? Haha. It’s actually a show of strength to apologise when you’ve done something wrong.
Did you write it down? Could you share it in the comments section? I would love to read what you’ve got.
Here’s what I have:
- Silly and pathetic.
- With the person and with myself- Annoyed, irritated. A bit ashamed and definitely pathetic. Needy and thwarted.
- Relieved, pleased that they accepted my apology, peaceful and to confess, a little smug.
- It was hard!
Look at what you’re written, there is a high chance that you’ll remember it the next time you’re about to say sorry for tripping and falling splat on your face.
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