Four Times You Shouldn’t Apologize (Including When It’s Your Fault)
Apologies are vital in any relationship, and this has been proven time and again. A famous saying goes:
“Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong, and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego”.
Growing up, we were taught the importance of saying sorry; hence, it became a second nature to apologize when we are wrong.
However, there are some times when apologizing is not necessary, especially at your place of work.
This is why we have made a list of the times when your apologies are not required.
But before, we get to it; here are some things you should know about apologies.
WHY ARE APOLOGIES IMPORTANT?
An apology is a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.
Admittedly, saying sorry has a lot to do with human pride than we care to admit.
So many times, we notice that we refuse to apologize because we do not want to hurt our ego; hence, we see an apology as a sign of weakness.
Often, we may say what we do not mean, hence, hurting the next party unknowingly.
Such hurts may run deeper than intended, and this can mess relationships up whether romantic or professional.
The only way to repair such damage is by giving a heartfelt apology accompanied by actions.
Apologizing is a societal norm that has been ingrained in individuals since childhood; thus, when one is hurt, he or she expects an apology to make things better.
As a result of these ingrained values, we tend to apologize when it is not necessary.
Studies have revealed that it is common for ladies to apologize more than men do when necessary and even when it is not.
This is because women believe that they make more mistakes than men; hence, the need for apologizing.
It is even more prominent in women in the corporate world.
Here is an interesting statistics about interaction of apologizer sex with offense type
WHY PEOPLE CONSTANTLY APOLOGIZE?
Even though apologies repair relationships, excessive apologies are a No-No.
Unfortunately, saying sorry could become involuntary with little remorse attached.
This is usually as a result of depression or anxiety.
Kirsten Corley says, “When you suddenly reevaluate the situation, and you realize ‘Oh, I could have said this differently, I could have done this differently,’ it triggers you to want to apologize, it triggers you to want to better the situation.” She goes ahead to list some things that she finds herself apologizing for: “Talking too much, overthinking, caring too much, trying too hard, texting too much,” among others.
If you have anxiety issues, you catch yourself, probably, analyzing your actions more than necessary; you pick out things that you feel are out of place, hence, a compulsive need to apologize.
Additionally, you may apologize more than necessary if you have learned to apologize as a way to escape danger.
For instance, if you are in an abusive relationship, you may have discovered that apologizing made you escape imminent violence.
Unfortunately, this becomes a habit and becomes evident in your everyday relationship with other people.
When you over-apologize, you tend to make your apologies lose their effect.
That is to say, your excuses may lose value, as no one wants to keep hearing the same thing over and over again without a visible change in attitude.
Even more so, when you apologize for minor issues that weren’t also noticed. Eventually, when you apologize sincerely for a significant mistake, it may not be accepted as anything serious.
Additionally, over-apologizing may reflect low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in yourself, making you lose respect, especially in a corporate society.
Nobody wants to answer to a boss that does not believe in himself; therefore, ensure that you watch yourself when dishing out apologies.
FOUR TIMES YOU SHOULD AVOID APOLOGIZING
Although there are so many cases where your apologies are not needed, we have made a list of four instances when you shouldn’t apologize. They are:
- When you want the floor.
- When you are unsure of yourself.
- When you want to deliver bad news
- When you are at fault
1. When You Want The Floor
Frequently, we find ourselves apologizing when we are about to speak up.
This may be when you are about to interrupt someone already speaking.
You could make a statement like – “Sorry, can I add something to your point?”, “Excuse me, can I speak concerning what she said?” – The truth is that there is nothing to be sorry or excused for.
However, we feel the need to apologize before we make our point, which may make us sound undeserving of the floor or their attention.
Sometimes, you even apologize when you have been interrupted while talking; hence, you make a statement like: “Sorry, I am still speaking.”
Admittedly, speaking up without an interlude may sound off as we are used to apologizing before interrupting, however, you should ignore the apology and go straight to your point as this leaves you in charge of the conversation.
Another typical instance is in your voicemail greeting: “Sorry, I’m unavailable; please leave a message.”
This is wrong on all levels as you had other things to do than sit by the phone to hear it ring.
Therefore, avoid apologizing for giving your opinions or for being you.
2. When You Are Unsure Of Yourself
This kind of apology may be well-meaning – as all apologies are – however, it subtly makes others sense a failure of living up to their expectations or as a failure.
If you are late for a meeting, it is best to say: “Thank you for waiting” rather than “Sorry, I’m late” as the former sends off a distracting or negative message.
Admittedly, you accept that you inconvenienced your colleagues by making them wait for you.
However, there is nothing wrong with passing yourself along as someone whose presence is continuously demanded as opposed to sheepishly apologizing.
Also, while giving a presentation, and you are gradually pushing past the allotted time, avoid saying: “Sorry, I won’t be long now.” Instead, cut your presentation short as long as the essential points have been delivered.
Additionally, if you bump into someone while walking, you could give a cheery reply indicating that you didn’t see the person while adding a salutation. This is better than providing an embarrassed “Sorry” or “Excuse me.”
It is not wrong to have a feeling of vulnerability from time to time.
Still, it becomes a problem when you continuously apologize for being who you are. You should not apologize for something you can or cannot do as everyone is entitled to their capabilities as well as shortcomings.
Continuously doing this will only increase your feeling of inadequacy longer than usual.
3. When You Want To Deliver Bad News
Bad news always brings with it a sting; hence, an impulsive need to take away this sting by apologizing.
The bad news is; your apology will only make the bad news worse than it sounds by taking off the empathetic notes it should come with.
For instance, instead of saying, “I’m sorry; our project was rejected.”
Saying this will make your team members feel bad for getting rejected after putting in so much work.
Also, when you apologize in situations like this, it may sound insincere, especially in cases like: “I’m sorry we will be retrenching some workers.”
Apologizing will not make any difference or take the sting away from the news.
Admittedly, the sting from bad news cannot be taken away by an apology. In cases like this, avoid the interlude and go straight to the point; the only way to help is by offering some form of support or advice that will help them move ahead.
Offering a way forward will do more good than giving words of empathy.
4. When You Are At Fault
I know this may sound funny because the primary time a person apologizes is when he or she is at fault.
However, instead of apologizing and saying sorry, you should take responsibility for your actions.
For instance, if you are unable to meet up with a deadline that you set initially, instead of saying, “I’m sorry the presentation will not be ready on Wednesday as promised.”
You should say, “I know we agreed on having the presentation on Wednesday, but there is some vital information that will not be available until Tuesday, and it will be great in the project, so I’ll present it to you by this weekend. What do you think?”
You should explain the situation and that you will not be able to meet up the deadline as promised; however, you should ensure that you present this in a positive light.
Be as hopeful and as proactive as possible, as this will give your boss something to look forward to.
Situations like these are bound to occur, and your first instincts will be to say sorry and explain yourself.
Still, there are better ways to display empathy while giving intelligent replies.
Also, proffering solutions to problems is the best substitute for apologizing.
Other Times When You Should Avoid Apologizing Are:
- When you say no: self-respect is evident in respecting and acknowledging your limitations/boundaries. When you are unable to bend your rules or deliver according to one’s expectations, you should not apologize. One excellent characteristic of a leader is your ability to say no and stand by it. This will give others a glimpse of your values and teach them to respect it.
- Taking out time for you: Success and fulfillment are results of a mind at ease. Self-care is vital if you want to deliver accurately. Saying sorry for taking “my time” is wrong because it is necessary to maintain a perfect state of mind.
- For your imperfections: Imperfections make you unique and beautiful. You should embrace your imperfections and never apologize for them. Flaws make you “You.”
- For what you believe in: You should not apologize for believing in your values, ethics, spiritual beliefs, or morals. When you stand for what you think is right, you indirectly show an admirable inner strength. Saying sorry will reveal an unstable stand.
- For not knowing an answer: Learning never ends, hence, a continuous search for knowledge. Thus, if you do not know the answer to a particular question, you should not apologize as it allows you to learn something new. Admitting that you do not, the response to such an issue shows humility and strength, as well.
- For having high expectations: High expectations make you aim more elevated than usual, and it also applies to others. Expecting much from others only shows that you are concerned about them enough to push them to be better. Therefore, you should not apologize for expecting much from others and yourself also.
- For someone else: You should try as much as possible to not apologize for the actions of others, even if it reflects on you poorly simply because of association. This is because everyone is responsible for his or her actions and not because of you.
- For telling the truth: Yes, the truth may be painful, and only strong people say the truth fearlessly. Therefore, you should not apologize for being strong and speaking the truth to others. Eventually, the benefits of speaking the truth will be higher than the sting.
- For your priorities: Your priorities are individual, and you should not entertain any guilty feeling for your preferences. Let your priorities come first, and when others see how committed you are to it, they will have no choice than to respect them.
HOW TO STOP OVER-APOLOGIZING
When you apologize, you give the other person the power to either forgive you or not.
Now, this should not deter you from apologizing when you do wrong.
However, you shouldn’t do this too often or trivialize it, especially when you mean what you said previously.
More often than not, we apologize for getting rid of the feeling of guilt as opposed to being sorry.
Here are some things to do to avoid guilty feelings:
Be Sure of Yourself
Guilt thrives when you are unsure of yourself and uncomfortable in your skin.
During times like this, you will experience anxiety and fear; hence, making you apologize for anything and everything as you feel you will always make a mistake.
To overcome this urge to apologize born out of guilt, you have to break out of the feeling of insecurity and be confident in your capabilities and flaws.
When you do this, you will stop apologizing for being you.
Pick Your Battles
If you fight lots of battles, you will run out of steam when you need to fight for yourself.
Admittedly, not all disputes are worth fighting; therefore, you should choose a battle that, in the long run, will favor you.
Preferably, go for actions that have visible and long term effects and avoid those with little consequences.
Also, you will face challenges from dismissive and people who are out to make you doubt yourself.
However, you should understand that their banters only serve to make their inadequacies glaring. Keep up doing the right thing.
Despite maintaining a calm head, you can give an occasional reply that will leave a lasting impact, without apologizing, of course.
Be Defensive, not Offensive
When you are always on the offensive with people, you make yourself an easy target for their jabs.
Avoid attacking those who piss you off personally, as this brings you closer to them and gives them juice for a showdown.
When you avoid such issues, you will experience an emotional balance that will give you peace of mind, and you get respect from those around you.
Additionally, you get to avoid offering apologies that you do not mean if you eventually have a one on one encounter with them.
Analyze the situation thoroughly
If you experience a particular issue frequently from the same person, then you should check if you need that relationship in your life.
Additionally, you should check if what the person says affect you negatively or positively.
Owning up to your mistakes is a beautiful habit that shows a certain level of maturity that is rare.
Being human means, you will often make mistakes and the next person; the ability to acknowledge your faults and apologize is priceless.
However, apologizing too often takes away the potency of your apologies in that the person in question gets too used to your apologies and starts doubting how genuine your apologies are.
Additionally, knowing when to say sorry puts you in charge of your relationships with people.
In the corporate world, earning respect from your colleagues is a totality of how you respond to situations that may threaten your peace.
If you find yourself in a situation that has a societal demand for an apology, your ability to handle it and come through without sounding rude or insensitive is one you should master.
As opposed to what we were taught as children, not every mistake or flaw requires an apology; you should be tactical enough to know when and how to apply this.
Asides saying sorry, there are other practical ways to express how you feel.
Additionally, thrive on making a positive change from a particular habit instead of regularly apologizing for the same issue without a difference.
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