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Why you should say “I’m sorry” less


I had trouble deciding what to write about this week since last week was so heavy. I’m glad I wrote that post but I regret not have a transition plan. You can’t exactly go from writing about death to writing about silly, irrational fears. My instinct was to apologize for not posting this Monday and thankfully that sparked the following.

Women are more apologetic than men, studies say. We’re always the first to say excuse me or pardon me or I’m sorry. After reading about this, I started to notice when I say I’m sorry and it turns out it’s all the time.

When someone bumps into me I say sorry, but I notice the other person doesn’t always say sorry. We all know there are entitled people in the world who wouldn’t know how to form an apology if it came up through their bidet. I want to stop fueling the idea the that I should be the one that’s sorry.

Another thing I apologize for is when someone else is being unclear. This happens a lot through email, but it happens in person too. Through email is the best because when you read back through the email chain you can see when it dawns on the person that they were completely wrong. Instead of trying to apologize, however, they just get defensive, aggressive or pretend like whatever it is they need to get done is too urgent to discuss what was or wasn’t said previously. I normally apologize to these people because that’s what they seem to be looking for based on their reaction. I get it. It’s hard admitting your mistakes. That’s why it’s called a virtue. I’m going to stop apologizing to these people not just because I want them to own up to their mistakes and be better people, but also because I’m competent. I am a competent person and there’s no reason I should downplay that for someone else’s feelings, especially in the workplace where perception is 95 percent of the job. The other 5 percent is how often you bring in donuts for everyone.

Something else I apologize for is being unusual. Sometimes I make really corny jokes or I laugh too loud and snort or I lick my fingers in a restaurant because the steak is that good and I’m done apologizing. Just because you don’t get how funny I am doesn’t mean I should apologize for it. There are some people I really look up to because they’re unapologetically themselves. This is the right attitude. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

I read another study recently about how much room men take up in a space. I know this sounds like it’s a men against women piece, but I’m using these studies as a diving board to talk about jerks of all shapes and sizes, women included.

I take public transportation every single day. Regularly, I see people with their bags in the aisle or in the seat next to them. I see people cackling away on the phone or with their legs stretched out on the seat in front of them. Whenever I have to walk over someone’s legs or ask someone to move their stuff, I tend to apologize as if I’m an inconvenience. Maybe I am an inconvenience but that’s what shared services is about. It’s about sharing. Yesterday, there was a guy sleeping in one of the seats that has a table. There are two seats on either side of the table. I needed to use the table and there weren’t any others open so I sat down across from him. I realized his legs were completely stretched sideways under the table. Not in front of him, but all the way across so that no one could have occupied any of the other three seats around the table. So I kicked him. And you know what? It was fine. He moved his legs. I didn’t say sorry and it felt great. Sometimes people just need a little kick.

I don’t think we should give up manners and surrender to a Hunger Games style life, but I think we need to remember that we are just as valuable as all the other humans on this earth. We are not an inconvenience. We are not something to apologize for. Life is too short to try to make up for who you are.

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