Apologizing for your wrongdoings is a sane thing to do.

But, over-apologizing for petty things such as being 30 seconds late to the office or accidentally bumping into a fellow pedestrian on a street is definitely absurd.

You are not alone in this world if you have the habit of saying “I am sorry” even you don’t make any error or hurt anyone’s sentiments.

The phenomenon is particularly common among women in the offices.

You may be trying to show deference, accommodation or defense through involuntary apology, but it makes you look professionally incompetent.

No matter what you truly mean, apologizing frequently in your office is the one way of presenting yourself as a person who lacks confidence and wants to please everybody.

Needlessly saying sorry on multiple occasions have become a part and parcel of many people’s personalities.

Some people, especially the woman can’t complete a sentence without uttering this word.

One reason they keep on apologizing for all sorts of silly reasons is to avoid looking rude and arrogant to others.

Unfortunately, they seem more of pushovers when they repeat sorry so many times during the work.

More importantly, they put themselves in a weak position which others try to take advantage of.

Sometimes, people apologize for things they do not have any control over.

For example, the following is a typical sentence you may speak if you get late due to the rain.

“I am sorry I got late due to rain. It won’t happen again.”

There is no need to be sorry in this particular case because rain is a natural phenomenon.

Why you should apologize for something you are not responsible for.

It is the worst case of over-apologizing, which in most cases, has some serious detrimental consequences. It is not only annoying to the listeners but also very disempowering for you.

You are essentially suppressing your own desires and needs so that you may not cause inconvenience to others.

Although, it is a good gesture, yet it also creates a lot of problems for you as well.


The word “sorry” has become so ubiquitous that people use it in place of other more suitable words.

On most occasions, you apologize impulsively without realizing there is no need for it.

However, expressing regret mindlessly can put your job or career in danger.

It is always tempting to keep everybody happy in your office.

As a result, you say sorry for literally everything, including things which are far beyond your control.

But, you must realize that you are not responsible for everything happening around you.

Over-apologizing introduces doubts in people’s minds and reduces their confidence in you, greatly emasculating your professionalism.

Before you inflict more damage to your interests, you must stop asking for forgiveness for a broken chair or a malfunctioning computer.

Why should you be sorry if the UPS guy is late or the internet is not available unless you are responsible for repairing them?

Only use “I am sorry” where necessary.

One way of doing so is to keep certain “Do’s” and “Don’ts” in mind whenever you have to decide whether or not you should make an apology.


Most often, people are totally fine with the things you normally apologize for.

You might have got a reaction, “Why are you sorry?” when you say, “I am sorry” for any reason.

This is the point which should make you realize that it is the time to stop.

So, what are the better and more effective alternatives to show you are compassionate and eager to take care of others?

The following are some of the phrases and words you can use instead of Sorry to prove your point.

Say Thank You

Not all the situations demand an apology.

For example, you will look more demeaning if you say sorry to a person who simply points out typo mistakes in your rough draft.

Similarly, saying sorry is an overkill if someone helps you write an official letter.

As you see, none of these situations are dire and therefore, a simple “thank’s” is all you need to show that you really appreciate their help.

It is a fact that most of the errors you apologize for are overwhelmingly common. You must tackle such situations by expressing a feeling of gratitude rather than guilt.

Nobody is going to judge you for being slightly late to a class or reprimand you for your typos.

Therefore, being grateful for their understanding of your problem is far more effective than apologizing.

Always be straightforward and thankful if anything does go wrong.

For instance,  there is no big deal in projects falling behind the due date of completion.

You should not take it to your nerves.

If a client asks for an update, your perfect answer could be, “Thank you for your patience as we are striving to complete the project as soon as possible.”

Skipping all the excuses, removing the sad story and relying on Thank You will help you come out from a ditch with the flying colors and take your power back which you lost by continuously hiding behind lame excuses.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Sporadic use of sorry as an emotional and wholehearted response to disappointments and errors at work can be very effective.

After all, it displays that you have a lot of humility and you want to atone for your mistakes.

However, the worst thing about the overuse of sorry is that it makes you look like an excuse maker.

On the other hand, actively trying to rectify the mistake and minimizing the damage is the way to go.

It is even better if you give a timeline and outline action steps for repair and recovery.

Replace “I am Sorry” with “I Desire”

“I am sorry” is a sentence which does not have any meaning. It does not convey any message to the other person. One of the best replacements for “I am sorry” is “I desire.”

This particular statement leads you to a definite conclusion. It actually represents what both of you want to happen in response to an error or what is actually going to happen.

It helps you speak your heart out. Similarly, the listener also feels heard and important. It enables both of you to take the first step towards the resolution of the problem.

Apologize Without Using the Word Sorry

You will be surprised to learn that you can apologize for your mistakes, no matter how trivial or severe they are, without using the word sorry.

What actually is an apology?

It is about taking the responsibility for what you have done and committing to not to repeat the same mistake in the future. Your apology or “sorry” is useless if you have not learned any lesson and you will do it again. Never use the word sorry regardless of how compelling the urge is.

Try your best to apologize without it.

As a result, you will clear everything on your side of the story.

A Simply Sorry is Nothing Without Any Sympathy

What is the reason you say, “I am sorry” so frequently in your workplace or anywhere else you go? In fact, you want to sympathize with others which is indeed a noble cause.

However, a hollow “sorry” without any real sympathy is more hurting for others instead of being helpful.

What you should do is to practice sympathy by actually recognizing the feelings of the people involved.

Everyone has its own sobbing story to tell.

For instance, if someone talks about a difficult experience he had in the past, you can sympathize with him by saying,

” That sounds like you went through some terrible times.”

You cannot make others feel better, valued or heard simply by saying sorry.

Do Not Apologize for Bothering People

The word sorry is most commonly used during the office conversations, meetings, and gatherings.

Frankly speaking, what is the point of saying sorry when you want to ask a question, interrupt a speaker or seek an opinion from someone.

Instead, do nothing and simply say what you have to say when the speaker has taken a pause.

Similarly, you can say, “Is this a good time to talk?” when you knock at your boss’s door.

You have to do your job, no matter what it takes.

Therefore, do not undermine yourself by saying sorry when you have to ask a question or give an opinion that assists you in better performing your duties.

Respond Confidently to a Perceived Mistake

There are times when you have to say sorry, especially in the workplace.

But, it is better to save your apology for the situations which actually require one such as when you hurt someone emotionally or physically.

The best course of action is to recognize how others perceive your failure and subsequently, respond to the situation with the highest degree of confidence.

For example, if you fail to get desired results from a project you initiated, you can calm down the higher authorities by saying, “Well, it did not go as planned.

But, I have the situation under control. Give me more time to get the job done.”

Subsequently, use all the resources, passion and grit you can muster to actually get the job done.

Offer a Practical Perspective

People unconsciously misuse the word sorry which further fuel the conflict.

When you say, “I am sorry, I disagree with what you are saying”, you just surrender your power.

Why should you be sorry when you disagree with others?

Everyone has the right to give his own perspective.

And, you should exercise this right without being apologetic.

What others may feel should not be your concern.

A better statement to give a truly practical perspective is, “We can take this from many different angles.”

Similarly, statements like, “I am sorry to tell this to you” and “I am sorry, you are wrong” can become “I am going to break news you may not like” and “You are wrong” respectively.

Show Self-Awareness and Commitment to Task

Uttering the word sorry throughout the day at work also presents you as a person who lacks self-awareness.

Consider an approach which is not only emotional, but intelligent as well to ascertain what kind of people have the tendency to apologize for small mistakes.

Are they the problem solvers or the insecure ones.

You definitely do not want to be the latter.

What you need to do is to totally change your approach and express the self-awareness if you do make an error.

Replace, “Oh, I am so sorry” with “thank you very much for pointing out my mistake. Is there anything else worth knowing.”

You must not focus on your own needs, but what you have to do to bring the desired outcome.

Express highest level of self-restrained and self-awareness instead of seemingly cutting a sorry figure.


How often do you say sorry in response of someone’s request?

Probably on almost every occasion.

Take the example of an official presentation for the sake of explanation.

When you are giving a presentation, someone will definitely ask you to go back to a previous slide on PowerPoint.

There is no apology in order because you have done nothing wrong here.

He is simply requesting you to explain a point you have already discussed because he could not understand it the first time.

Say Okay or just explain the slide once again and that is it.


The nicest way to apologize if anything goes wrong is saying “whoops” or using similar gestures.

It is also a common word, but it suppresses your urge to give a full-fledged apology for even smallest of mistakes.

You will not lose your job by committing small, negligible mistakes and therefore, you need not to apologize for all of them, to say the least.

Whoops lets others know that you are remorseful without using the infamous word.

I am Tired

We are most likely to make a mistake when we are tired. And you get tired quite often, especially if you are working in a fast-paced dynamic workplace.

Practice self-care and take a lot of sleep to avoid fatigue related incidents.

Similarly, always try to be at your best self at the office.

This will help you decrease the number of thoughtless remarks you make and errors for which you have to apologize later on.

Remain Silent

“I am sorry” has become the most common and somewhat a cliché sentence in offices around the globe.

Sometimes, you unconsciously say sorry to desks, lamps, and lockers when you accidentally bump into them.

Saying “I am sorry” to a nonliving thing is the biggest indicator that you are a chronic over-apologizer. Try to hold your words the next time you bump into something.

It is a wonderful way to practice self-restraint which can greatly help you avoid asking for vacuous apologies from the real human beings.

Most people mechanically apologize because they have no idea what else to say.

Therefore, it is better to remain silent in such situations and think about how you want to respond or the words you want to use.

This technique is applicable to many situations such as when you are comforting a colleague who has just received his termination letter.

These are hard times for him and he does not need an apology from someone who has no part to play in his turmoils.

On the other hand, sit silently for a moment and then come up with words or a piece of advice which can offer him real support and comfort.

Say I am Sorry

Sometimes, only an apology can save the day for you such as when you have messed up a large project or offended your boss.

However, you should not compromise your dignity in any case.

Try to maintain the balance between your self-consciousness and self-awareness when contemplating about how to apologize.

Do not take your apology as a precautionary measure, designed only to please certain people.

Choose heartfelt and warm words which truly indicate how sorry you are.


There is no reason to show remorse all of the time.

However, this is what most of us do either intentionally or unintentionally.

Similarly, “I am sorry” is not the statement you should use if you simply want some time off other’s person busy schedule or want to communicate your gratitude.

Replace the cliché sorry with “Thank you” and you are good to go.

This simple change is more aligned with the message you try to convey most of the time. It is much stronger and more effective as well.

As mentioned above, most mistakes or errors at work do not require any apology at all.

You actually become a laughing stock, for others to enjoy if you have the tendency to over-apologize.

Therefore, figuring out when you should use other words, or what is the appropriate time to say sorry in the office is the way to go.

What to Say Instead of “Sorry”

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