Ever wonder why we Canadians – especially Canadian women – say we’re sorry so much? It’s like we want to excuse ourselves for just…being.
I have said sorry before just to keep the peace because that was worth more than starting an argument or laying blame. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about minimizing yourself by over-using the word. It’s about appearing timid and small when that’s not the image you want to project.
“I’m sorry but I think we should…”
“I’m sorry, but I need to get in here…”
“I’m sorry. I thought you meant…”
Sociologist Maja Jovanovic noticed this phenomenon and has some practical ideas for changing this behavior. Because, frankly, it makes us seem meek and weak and like we don’t have confidence. Even if we are strong and bold and have healthy self-esteem
Some of her examples of unnecessary sorries: “The “sorry, this may be an obvious idea” at a meeting, the “sorry to cause trouble” when rescheduling a haircut, the “sorry, there’s a spill in the dairy aisle” at the supermarket.”
Jovanovic, who teaches at McMaster University in Hamilton, reminds us that we have options. “Every single one of us has responded to a text you got when you weren’t able to respond right away. What did you say? ‘Sorry.’” She says, “Don’t apologize — say, ‘I was working,’ ‘I was reading,’ ‘I was driving, ‘I was trying to put on Spanx.’ Whatever it is, it’s all good. You don’t have to apologize.”
She even suggests substituting “thank you” for “sorry”. Instead of saying “sorry I’m late” try “thank you for waiting”.
Jovanovic says, “I have been interrupting these apologies for three years now. One hundred percent of the time when I interrupt another woman and I say, ‘Why did you just say sorry for that?’ she’ll say to me, ‘I don’t know.’”
I don’t know either. Enough with being sorry! There’s a Gmail plugin called Just Not Sorry that will alert you to the sorries in your emails! That’s a good place to start.
If you’re interested in exploring this further, watch Jovanovic’s TEDx talk below.