It’s common knowledge that women apologize a lot. If you haven’t seen the Pantene commercial about how often women say sorry, I encourage you to watch it. No matter what your thoughts are on Pantene, you had to admit it’s pretty powerful.
Why is apologizing such a bad thing? I mean, it shows that we’re emotional and kind, right?
Sure, depending on the case. But apologizing for something that isn’t your fault doesn’t help when you want (and deserve…) respect.
It seems that apologizing is emphasized just as much as “please” and “thank you.” We’re taught to say sorry for things that aren’t even our fault.
For example, there are plenty of times I’ve caught myself apologizing for getting in someone’s way at the store. I would need to run in front of someone really quick to get out of the way, and I’d say “ope, sorry!” and scurry on my way. One day, a woman called me out on it. I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I had no reason to apologize.
I’m so thankful for that woman calling me out. Since then, rather than saying “sorry,” I just smile and say “excuse me.” Because it’s an appropriate comment when you are in someone’s way.
In my opinion, this is even more pivotal in the workplace than it is at the grocery store. In the Pantene commercial, a woman is shown saying “I’m sorry, can I ask a stupid question?” during a meeting. Then, in the same scenario, she says “I have a question.”
Which one is more powerful? Which version would you respect more?
It’s important not to dumb ourselves down or apologize, assuming we’re being a nuisance.
News flash: doing your job does not make you a nuisance, so stop apologizing for it.
Working women deserve respect. Hell, all people deserve respect. So apologize when you’ve done something wrong. And don’t apologize when you haven’t done anything wrong.
I’m challenging myself: for the next seven days, I won’t be apologizing. Unless I do something seriously wrong, you won’t hear me saying any version of “I’m sorry.” I’m not doing this challenge to be rude; I’m doing it to take myself more seriously. Hopefully others will take me more seriously as a result.
Want to join me in the challenge? I’d love some support with it! Let me know in the comments.
Fox Emm says
I am totally with you on your challenge. I apologize ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. (Colorful language necessary to stress how frequently and unnecessarily I apologize.)
I apologize to inanimate objects when I bump into them. It’s a problem.
Wish me luck!
Haha! My former roommate apologized to random kitchen objects all the time. I love it! Let me know how you do on the challenge! 🙂
Fox Emm says
I suck at this challenge, but I will not apologize for it. I say “Sorry” but then mentally kick myself. I’ve only been able to avoid saying sorry as a knee jerk reaction a handful of times. …I guess realizing you have a problem is the first step, but jeez!! This may be a prolonged challenge/experiment, haha.
Haha! I keep doing the same thing. “Sorry!” *dangit!*
Fox Emm says
Eeeexactly. I’ve managed to get better about apologizing at work, at least, which makes me happy since the stupid things people do there aren’t my fault. (When I need to actually apologize I do and still plan to, of course.)
Wow, this is so powerful! My husband gets terribly annoyed with my need to say “sorry” all the time. Then again, when he does get angry, I often don’t realize I did something wrong so I don’t apologize (or I do but in a very snarky tone of voice). Either way, I completely miss the point.
Ugh, I’m the same way! I’m trying to be more intentional about it, but I can tell it will be a difficult challenge.
Meghan Hayes says
It’s so true. My trainer says to never say sorry when we’re working out unless I drop a weight on her toe.
Hah! I love that!
Brooke Knipp says
Yes, yes, and yes! I love this and hope lots and lots of women read it. I have one friend in particular who is now a reformed apologizer. She did it ALL. THE. TIME! We were constantly telling her to stop. I know I do it more than I should, too. Great reminder to be intentional with our words and own the space we take up.
Good for her! I’m hoping I can do the same soon. 🙂
Star Traci says
I am definitely guilty of apologizing too often. I need to be more aware of when I use it and not say it out of habit or misplaced guilt. Can’t wait to see how your challenge works out.
Thanks, Traci! Me too 🙂
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
I’ve thought about this before, but not in this context. I definitely apologize far more often than necessary and, in my mind, it’s a politeness thing. But there are other ways to be polite without demeaning ourselves or assuming guilt for things that don’t need an apology. I think for my own personal challenge, I’m going to try to not say, “Dumb question” or “I have a stupid question” anymore. I almost always do when I have to ask something in front of a group of people.
I’m the same way! I love that you’ve caught yourself though and are working to change it. 🙂 I also just say “hey question for you” instead of just asking the question. It’s so silly–just ask the question! 🙂
I’m in! I’ve actually been trying to do this for a few months already, ever since I realized I was doing exactly what you’re talking about — saying “sorry,” when I really should be saying “excuse me.”
I also find myself saying “sorry” at work a lot for little things, which I totally need to stop doing. It’s so tough because it feels like it’s just habit now!
Same! It’s such a hard habit to break. Hopefully the challenge helps! 🙂
Shann Eva says
That’s a great idea for a challenge. Even from just reading your post, I think I’ll be more conscious and try to stop apologizing.
That’s awesome, Shann! I hope it helps! 🙂
I will take that challenge
Awesome, Donna! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Donna Ettinger says
I already screwed up but at least I was aware when I apologized. I did notice that my bf says excuse me instead of I’m sorry.
Yes! So awesome that you are noticing it.
Cynthia @craftoflaughter says
I so agree with you about apologizing but ” I’m sorry” doesn’t always equal an apology. Sometimes it just means I’m sorry you’re hurting, I’m sorry you’ve had a loss.
Totally! And those are a-okay to say. But subbing “I’m sorry” for things like “excuse me” are a bit less acceptable. 🙂
I agree that women need to not over apologize. It makes us stronger to only apologize once if needed.
A Life of Love and Joy says
“News flash: doing your job does not make you a nuisance, so stop apologizing for it.” I LOVE THIS!!!! 🙂 I do the same thing though, it’s a tough habit to break!
So true! It’s especially hard because I keep forgetting to monitor myself. I feel like I need to write it all over my cubicle / house to remind myself! 🙂
Amber Killmon says
I love this post. I am very overly apologetic. To the point people tell me to stop all of the time.
Haha, that’s no good! Hopefully you can start thinking about it more so you tone it down a little 😉
Donnica Smalls says
What a great challenge. I also love that Pantene commercial. It’s great to see companies like them and also Always and Dove making commercials with positive messages for females.
I’m glad you like it, Donnica! 🙂
Brittney Embree says
haha Did you write this just for me? I apologize ALL the time!!!!!!!!! I know it is not a healthy thing but it just keeps coming out of my mouth!
haha I just read Fox Emm’s comment as I was typing this and I know exactly how she feels!
I keep catching myself saying it and it’s so hard to stop! Ugh!
Trish Nicholas says
I completely agree with this. The other day D said she was sorry for something that had nothing to do with her, and that she herself had no control over. I asked her why she was sorry and we had a long conversation about why she shouldn’t be. I caught myself doing it later that same day – I meant it in a ‘I’m sorry you’re having trouble’ kind of way but because I just said I was sorry it sounded like I was blaming myself. Ever since then I’m being WAY more careful!
I love that you’re talking about this with other women! So great. I keep catching myself typing out “sorry” when texting people. But catching myself is the first step, right?! 🙂
Im not only a woman, but also British (we apologise for absolutely everything all the time) so i dont think there’s much hope for me regarding this
Julie O'Hara says
I saw that Pantene ad–so on point! I loved reading your post and love that you write about feminism. I’m very conscious of apologizing when it’s not needed and I try not to do it. It can be hard.
Thanks, Julie! It’s seriously so difficult. I typically only remember after I’ve already apologized. Womp womp.
I guess by the time you”re in your 60’s you can differentiate which situations calls for a “sorry” or an “excuse me”.
Please don’t let it take you ladies that long.
Hopefully it won’t! It’s such an important distinction to make.