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Anna J McDougall
Anna J McDougall

Posted on • Originally published at

An Easy Trick to Stop Apologising

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Have you ever met someone who kept apologising for every question or favour they asked? Perhaps you are that person and you can hear yourself saying "sorry" over and over again for basic and normal requests which really don't need an apology. It is annoying for everyone involved and usually, the person apologising is just in such a habit of doing it that a gentle "No need to apologise" or even "Please stop apologising" won't actually lead to any change.

I heard a great tip a few years ago which could help you escape this annoying habit, and lead to better relationships with colleagues, friends, and superiors. This tip helps avoid a weird power dynamic where you put yourself in the position of someone begging or being needy, and changes it into a collaborative, positive space. In my opinion, it not only helps others respect you more, but leads to you respecting yourself more.

Replace 'sorry' with 'thank you'

We know that replacing bad habits is easier than removing them completely, so every time you feel the urge to apologise for something unnecessarily, try to rephrase it as a thank you. This puts you in a better headspace, but people also feel a lot more comfortable accepting thanks than accepting unnecessary apologies. As said, it also turns a generally negative feeling and frames it positively. You're still showing gratitude without begging forgiveness for an everyday request.

Here are some examples:

Instead of Try
Sorry for the inconvenience Thank you for your time
Sorry you had to wait so long Thank you for your patience
Sorry to ask, but... Thanks for seeing me, would you mind telling me...
You helped me so much, sorry Thank you for helping me so much

These are just a few examples. For me, "thank you for your time" was the most valuable and easy to implement in a variety of situations.

If you try to utilise this technique in your everyday life, you'll see that not only do people respond a lot better to your requests and explanations, but you'll also walk away feeling more like you collaborated, rather than grovelled.

Disclaimer: This advice does not apply for when you truly should apologise. If you hurt someone (even accidentally) or do someone wrong, you should apologise. The above is only applicable when you are in the unfortunate habit of apologising for normal requests.

Top comments (5)

waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

Thanks for the tips Anna! I am really bad at apologising for everything myself. I've been trying to implement these for awhile, it's hard. I've gotten much better in written form, but speaking is really hard.

Thanks for the concrete examples, they are really helpful.

annajmcdougall profile image
Anna J McDougall

Glad to hear it's useful for you Waylon! Breaking habits is always hard. Don't beat yourself up about it if you slip up from time to time. You got this!

cirphrank profile image

Nowadays I'm beginning to read pieces on this platform that goes beyond piecing lines of codes together and it's explicitly refreshing.

Thank you for this read, I like how a couple of you are tackling basic human issues.

dmbaturin profile image
Daniil Baturin

If someone actually created a problem, I'd rather hear an apology, even if formal rather than sincere.
If I'm late, I will say "Sorry for being late" rather than "Thank you for your patience", so that people know that I at least acknolwegde that I created a problem for them.
If I break an API, or cause a service downtime, I want its users to know that no, I don't think it's acceptable. If I could not have prevented it, a proper apology is least I can do for the users who suffered from my failures.