Should we all stop saying 'I'm sorry'? | The Tylt

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Should we all stop saying 'I'm sorry'?

It's no secret that a genuine apology makes a huge difference when someone has wronged another. Perhaps rather than apologize less, everyone should hear the words on a deeper level. Apologies mean different things to different people, but everyone can agree that "I'm sorry" is one of the most important phrases available in order to maintain relationships. 

As Symmetry Counseling puts it: 

...not all apologies are created equal, and it is important to understand what the hurt partner is looking for when you make an apology or seek forgiveness. Otherwise, you may find yourself caught in a cycle where you that feel your sincere efforts to apologize are rejected and your partner feels neglected and disrespected.

There's no need to cut down the amount of "I'm sorry's" you dole out every day if the people around you respond well to the effort. 


There are so many things people apologize for when they shouldn't. Oftentimes "I'm sorry" acts as a filler for other phrases like "excuse me" or even "thank you." 

As Little Things's Kate Taylor points out, frequent apologizing makes the words lose impact. And depending on the setting, it can also make the apologizer seem weak and cause unnecessary guilt. 

For women, in particular, over-apologizing can be especially dangerous. According to TEDX speaker and professional women's coach Melody Wilding, saying "I'm sorry" too often can break professional trust and set employees back in achieving their goals. Entrepreneur's Nicolette Amarillas adds:

Most people can admit that they've used the phrase 'I'm sorry' as an easy way out. Sometimes rushing to admit fault makes it easier to ignore mistakes, because you feel like you've made amends by quickly acknowledging you were wrong. Some people saying 'I'm sorry'–whether they mean it or not–wash their hands of the issue, and move on. Ever done this? Everyone has. But, apologizing does not course correct, or offer a solution. Many times, we'd be better served by removing the 'I'm sorry' and replacing it with something more valuable.

Imagine the difference it would make to replace "I'm sorry I'm late" with "thank you for waiting." "I'm sorry" can and should be exchanged for more meaningful words.


Apologizing is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. It's incredibly difficult to muster up an apology to anyone no matter what your relationship is with them. Plus, knowing when to apologize is a crucial interpersonal skill. The words "I'm sorry" should not be used to beg pardon or to soften a question, but they remain essential to building relationships. 

According to Psychology Today's Richard B. Joelson, although some might see apologizing as a weakness when they do it themselves, many still find value in an apology when they are on the receiving end:

It seems that some people experience an apology as a sign of weakness. Interestingly, when asked if they view it that way when the apology comes from another, they do not see it as weakness at all, but rather the 'right' or 'responsible' thing to do. Remarkably, some will say it is a sign of strength or maturity when the apology is offered by the other person, but still feel that it is an unacceptable admission of defeat—or weakness—when the apology is theirs to give to someone else.

It's too late to take back the meaning of the "I'm sorry" apology. No matter what setting you're in–business, at home or with friends–you'd be better off rephrasing your apologies in order to let the other person know that you are truly sorry, and not just using a filler phrase.

Plus, research shows that overly-polite people (you know the ones–they apologize non-stop) shouldn't be trusted. Lifehack's Brad Johnson reports: 

The Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Beijing (AMACL) just released their findings that those who are 'excessively polite' are considerably more likely to betray peers or comrades than those who are not effusively polite. 

Elite Daily's Dan Scotti adds: 

In life, a lot of the times, hearing the truth sucks. Whether it be pertaining to the girlfriend or boyfriend that you’ve been suspecting is cheating or waiting for the results of some test you didn’t really prepare for. Hence, if you want the truth–try to avoid people who are considered 'nice.'

Many people perceive apologizing as a way to be polite. In doing so, you are reflecting a dishonest version of yourself–are you actually sorry for interrupting?–and make yourself inauthentic and less trustworthy as a result.

Should we all stop saying 'I'm sorry'?
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