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Why I’m Not Sorry for Still Saying “Im Sorry!” (And Why You Shouldn’t be Either)
From:
Tracy Shawn -- Anxiety Fiction Novelist Tracy Shawn -- Anxiety Fiction Novelist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Santa Barbara, CA
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

 

by

Tracy Shawn, M.A.

A dear friend (whom I’ll call Nancy) recently had to delay two of our agreed-upon meeting times, which, then, had to be ultimately canceled. She had good reason: she was in the middle of a move and was tending to all the last-minute packing, appointments, and phone calls that can leave anyone overwhelmed and distracted. Still, there were no apologies. Nancy, I have to say, is a whip-smart go-getter, a forthright person whom I greatly admire. I told myself that she deserved a pass since she had so much on her plate—yet I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard Nancy apologize.

I’m guessing that Nancy, along with many others, who strive to be assertive, may have too readily taken up the advice that saying “I’m sorry” can often be construed as unnecessary, too self-deprecating, and weak. And I agree—but not across the board—nor across personalities.

For instance, you don’t need to say you’re sorry if someone else’s cart at the market bangs into yours, especially if that knee-jerk response undermines your confidence. It’s perfectly reasonable to simply smile and move on. Yet I often apologize when things like that happen. It’s my way of smoothing things over in case the other person is in such a foul mood that just one more stressor is going to throw them overboard. For me, I don’t feel as if saying sorry for simple mishaps—no matter whose “fault” it is—lowers my confidence, yet for someone else it may. So, it’s important to check in with yourself to see if those unnecessary apologies make you feel better or worse about yourself—and then act accordingly.

On the other side of unnecessary apologies, you may want to take a look about how it affects other people’s perceptions of you. Yes, we all know that we shouldn’t worry what others think of us—yet, again, this is another blanket statement that doesn’t always hold true. For instance, if you apologize too much in the work place (or even amongst your friends and family), other people may not take you or your ideas as seriously. As an example, you may have gotten into the habit of saying something like: “I’m sorry, but I’d like to interject…” (which may make you think as if you appear more accommodating, yet undermines other’s confidence in you), instead of simply stating: “I’d like to add…” when you’re in a group situation.

Being aware when the urge to utter an unnecessary apology is stemming from simple politeness or whether it’s a self-sabotaging habit that needs to be curtailed can help you decide your “I’m sorry” quota. You may still want to say you’re sorry, then, for something that others could consider annoying, such as eating too loudly at a meeting, but you don’t need to apologize for your own needs. So, instead of saying, “I’m sorry, but may I have an extra day to finish this assignment?” could be phrased instead as: “May I please have an extra day to finish this assignment as I need more time to research.”

Then, finally, we get to the necessary apologies. What are those? Apologies are necessary when whatever we’ve said or have done affects someone else in a negative way. It’s those times when we forgot a friend’s birthday, spat out something hurtful and mean in a fight, broke a promise to a loved one, and, yes, screwed up another person’s schedule by having to delay and/or cancel a meeting time—the list goes on.

The real apology involves expressing both responsibility and regret, and at times, a request for forgiveness. Therefore, it’s not something like: “I’m sorry if what I said made you upset.” It’s more like: “I was being insensitive. I’m sorry and I feel badly about it. I hope you can forgive me.” Real apologies, then, show others that you value your relationship with them, as well as respect them enough to acknowledge their feelings and worth. In turn, real apologies do not diminish self-esteem nor make one less assertive; rather, they can increase self-worth by helping one maintain healthy relationships with others. So, please, no matter how “fashionable” it’s become to not say sorry, don’t let good, old-fashioned manners fly out the window. For your sake and others, it’s still more than okay to apologize—especially when it’s necessary!

Author and speaker Tracy Shawn lives on the Central Coast of California. Her debut novel, The Grace of Crows (Cherokee McGhee, 2013), won awards for Indie fiction, including the 2013 Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama and Second Place for General Fiction from Reader Views. She’s written numerous articles for print and online publications and has had three short stories published in literary journals. Ms. Shawn is currently revising her second novel. You can visit her website at: www.tracyshawn.com and follow her on Twitter at @TracyShawn

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