The trouble with teen girls and constant apologizing

Guest post by Lilly

This post originally appeared in “Lilly’s Blog” on

I’m Sorry Topper by JustSayItFoodToppers

My friend Amanda is a serial apologizer. She apologizes for being two seconds late, she apologizes when people lovingly tease her, and she apologizes for laughing too loudly. I vividly remember walking to class with her freshman year and someone knocked into her in the stairwell. Amanda’s immediate response was to say sorry to the guy who had nearly sent her tumbling. It seemed as though Amanda felt like she owed the world an apology for her very existence.

The part of me that tries to defy Good Girl expectations wishes Amanda would just yell at the jerk in the stairwell. But I understand where she’s coming from. In Girl World, where the slightest faux pas can make your friend inexplicably upset, you learn to apologize. Girls have come to think of apologies as preventive medicine, daily vitamins to be consumed habitually.

This notion evolved because we have all observed or been involved in a conflict that was miraculously resolved by an apology. I’m not talking about the scenario in which two friends are fighting until someone realizes her fault. She then apologizes by acknowledging her wrongdoing, expresses remorse without making excuses, offers to remedy the situation. Hugging and forgiving ensues. That scenario is pure Disney.

Instead, consider this scene: one of the girls becomes bored with fighting and apologizes by mumbling “sorry,” complete with eye rolls and hair flipping. As soon as she apologizes, the fight is over. Apologies, regardless of how pathetic they are, are instant cures because continuing an argument, even if someone feels truly hurt, is considered mean.

The resounding consensus among girls is that only a bully would dream of not accepting an apology. Good Girls forgive and forget. If apologies instantly end unpleasant conflicts, it seems a logical conclusion to assume that apologizing all the time is likely to prevent conflicts. Amanda is not a pushover, but people assume her constant apologizing means she is willing to do anything to avoid conflict.

I wasn’t the only one concerned by her penchant for penance. Sophomore year we had a teacher who hated when Amanda apologized unnecessarily. Once Amanda met with him outside of class to discuss a paper, and he mentioned that she forgot a cover page. What did Amanda do? You guessed it, she apologized. The teacher chastised her and explained she should just fix her mistake. Amanda responded by saying, bless her heart, sorry.

They had similar interactions over the course of the semester. But Amanda was shocked when she got her report card. At our school it is customary for teachers to write comments about the student in addition to reporting grades. The teacher wrote something to the effect that Amanda would be “taken advantage of” if she did not learn to stop saying sorry. Amanda and her parents were slightly troubled. Was the teacher suggesting that peers or teachers would underestimate her? Or was he warning her of a far more insidious scenario? I think the teacher’s intentions were pure, but he chose the wrong words.

I may not approve of Amanda’s habit in social settings because I think it makes her seem like a pushover. But I also understand that Amanda developed her ability to apologize because she observed the magical power “sorry” has over girls. Amanda knows that girls who apologize are rewarded with relationships without confrontation.

The teacher, on the other hand, has a point. In the real world apologies are only worth as much as the sincerity behind them. Apologizing for minor things seems like bad form; how sincerely regretful can one really feel about an erroneous cover page?

More importantly, the teacher understood Amanda’s apologies sent the wrong message to those around her about her relationship with power. Amanda divorces herself from her power to be rightfully indignant about being bumped into. Apologies are graceful, subtle ways for Good Girls to assure people they won’t make any waves. When an apology is actually warranted, the apologizer is often seen as the “bigger person.” But when girls apologize gratuitously, they forfeit their power to disagree, challenge or be upset in confrontations of any magnitude.

I don’t know if Amanda will ever stop apologizing to the person who cuts her in line. Maybe she would learn not to say sorry so indiscriminately if an odd comment on a report card wasn’t the first time an adult tried to discuss the implications of apologizing with her.

Comments on The trouble with teen girls and constant apologizing

  1. While there is some truth in not over apologizing, I don’t like the implication that if someone bumps into you that you should be indignant. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, with our reputation for politeness, but it seems that every time I’ve been involved in a bumping-into situation, both parties, say “Whoops! Sorry!” with no regard to whose fault it was. Obviously, apologizing to someone who cuts in line is a different story, but I don’t think you can immediately equate “sorry” with “pushover.” Perhaps it is not the apology, but the body language and intonation with which it is given.

    • With that example, it depends on the tone of the apology. As another Canuck, I will use a friendly “Eeep! Sorry!” when I bump into someone, or say excuse me. That doesn’t make us a pushover – it just means I felt bad about stepping on your toe or hitting you with my elbow, and needed to say something. πŸ™‚

      But to me, in a conflict where “Sorry” is just said to appease someone, it minimizes the person’s feelings who has to make the apology. And the sincerity isn’t there, as the eye rolls and hair flips were described in this piece. Just like the author says: “But when girls apologize gratuitously, they forfeit their power to disagree, challenge or be upset in confrontations of any magnitude.”

      How do we teach girls to challenge and disagree without ending up in a serious catfight? Are we taught to disagree respectfully at all, or are we still supposed to smile sweetly and keep our growls to ourselves?

      I didn’t learn how to share my growl until my late 30s. And I love my growl! πŸ™‚ I also apologize needlessly a lot less than I used to!

    • It depends…if it’s just a quick shoulder vs shoulder nothing’s necessary I think. But if you get knocked over on the bus, someone bumps into you and you slop your delicious hot beverage etc then it’s worth an ‘Excuse me, please pay more attention to your surroundings’. I digress, being appologetic about EVERYTHING rather than saying ‘Okay, I understand’ or ‘It won’t happen again’ basically takes away your agency. As for catfights, can we take it out of our lexicon? It minimizes our anger and frustration to a childish squabble.

    • Yeah, we can’t include the Canadian passive-agressive “Sorry!” in this. Basically, when someone bumps into you in Canada, you say, “Sorry!” Then they say “Sorry!” back.

      It is considered very rude indeed to forgive someone who apologizes to you in Canada. Whatever you do, don’t say, “Hey, no problem!” or “Don’t worry about it!” They weren’t really apologizing to you at all, just following a speech convention which they also expect you to follow.

      When you run over someone’s foot with your stroller in Canada, and they say, “Sorry!”, just look at them in the eye and say, “Oh! Sorry!” It’ll all go well.

      • It’s kind of true. I wouldn’t call it a passive-aggressive sorry, but casually bumping to someone can be seen as both peoples’ faults. The one person for walking into the other, and the second for not moving aside. Accepting the ‘sorry’ without returning it is like saying ‘You better be sorry because it’s all your fault” lol

        • I agree, it’s not really passive aggressive, it’s just a really strange custom that doesn’t have much meaning attached it it.

          I am ridiculous with this and have been told by many other Canadians that I tend to be very polite, but no one would mistake me for a pushover. However, I apologized to someone who hit me with his car (he was at fault and I was ok), which is completely ridiculous. I may also have thanked him, but I was so dazed that it wasn’t manners or me being meek, I was just sort of saying words in addition to repeating “I’m totally ok, can you give you your insurance information?” over and over again. I do think this is a bit different in the states where the customs have different meanings and people might interpret them differently. I don’t think the guy driving that car thought I was apologetic or grateful – I think he was worried that I had a concussion and was losing it in front of him. If this happened elsewhere, it might have been an opening to someone saying I had cross-walked or “come out of no-where,” or to otherwise lay blame on me.

          Another thing to remember is that whatever your local customs are, in a situation where a real apology is warranted there is a right and wrong way to do it and it’s often the beginning of gaining back trust or earning forgiveness. It’s not like you apologize and then the onus is suddenly on the other person to forgive you and they’re a jerk if they don’t. I really dislike the “well I apologized and so that should be that” attitude.

      • “It is considered very rude indeed to forgive someone who apologizes to you in Canada. Whatever you do, don’t say, “Hey, no problem!” or “Don’t worry about it!” They weren’t really apologizing to you at all, just following a speech convention which they also expect you to follow.”

        Wait? What?

        As a Canadian, born and bred, I gotta saw, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

        If the other person is at fault and says sorry to me, of course I say “That’s ok.” or “Don’t worry about it.” And I would never consider it rude if someone accepted my apology after a mishap.

      • I also think we shouldn’t lump Canadian apologies as being passive-aggressive or saying “hey, it’s okay” as being rude. I’m Canadian and in my experience, the whole bumping “sorry” thing is generally recognition that someone else was bumped, and the return “no problem” is just that: the other person saying it’s no big deal. Of course, there are always exceptions.

  2. I got hit by a car once as a pedestrian. It was his fault, but I was in so much shock that I apologized. We both did. He was freaked out too.
    In the heat of the moment, I felt guilty. I say sorry over everything because I genuinely feel regret or guilt. I can feel it pretty hard over inconsequential things. I could stop saying sorry, but it wouldn’t change my feelings, and then how do I get relief?

    • Yes! I feel horrible when I inconvenience people, I feel like it’s disrespectful and I always make sure people know when it was accidental. It’s kind of terrible- I feel like I can’t take up too much space, I say “no problem!” when people give me the not-so-sincere apology mentioned in the original post. I feel like this is the attitude that makes people think a person is a pushover (which, unfortunately, I can be). In my mind, it’s a result of social conditioning of girls in the Midwestern U.S. I try to assert myself when necessary, but it’s a struggle.

      • I think this is why I worry about my friends when they ‘over-apologise’. I want them to know that they are worth a bit of inconvenience or trouble because they are so important to me. I want them to know that I think they are strong and wonderful people, that I am not judging them for being two seconds late or needing to change plans because of unforseen circumstances.

  3. Someone please tell me this isn’t an Amanda thing. Because I SOOOOOO do this. My tattoo is “mea culpa” on my left forearm.
    Part of my problem is that I was raised as the sympathetic kid. My brother didn’t give an eff about anything (and why should he–he was everyone’s golden child) so I spent my childhood feeling bad about stuff, because I felt like SOMEBODY had to. Mom’s crying? I’m sorry, Mom. Dad didn’t have any dinner? I’m sorry, Dad. Something happened to someone that no one else is going to apologize for? I’m sorry, Someone.
    That carried over into things I should actually be sorry for. My immediate reaction is to apologize. I don’t try to fix it. I just feel bad.
    It’s quite a wakeup to finally hear someone else’s perspective of continual apologizing.

  4. This hit home for me, partly because I also apologise for things that are not my fault. It is good to apologise and mean it, when you’re in the wrong. A genuine, heartfelt apology can go a long way. But it isn’t good when you’re doing it to spare someone else the discomfort of understanding how their actions and words have hurt you.

    For example, someone at work makes odd, hurtful or sexist comments. I’m learning not to apologise for calling him out on his words, just to spare his feelings. He makes me feel like crap, and doesn’t care. Why am I apologising to him?

    I thought the tone of the teacher wasn’t helpful though. I’m aware I apologise too much, and diminish my own needs at the expense of others. Frankly, I don’t need another person piling on, lecturing me about how I’m going wrong. I don’t need dire warnings, judgement and condemnation. I need support, confidence, mentoring and encouragement.

  5. What an interesting, in-depth look at the constant apologizing habit!

    I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an over-apologizer myself, and it probably comes from quite a few factors. Being extremely self-aware, I tend to immediately jump to what *I* could have done better. Combine that with a conflict-averse personality and being raised in a society that praises people-pleasing in girls, and well… yeah.

    It’s funny though, now that I think about it, those little apologies aren’t necessarily saying “I really regret that.” They’re more likely saying, “Hey, in case that offended or annoyed you, I’ll just absorb this one so that we can move on.”

    I’d never thought about how that could be interpreted in different ways though. It’ll be fun in the next few days to pay attention to what I’m actually saying with my sorries.

  6. I think it depends on how often it’s said and the weight behind it. As has been mentioned already, eye rolling and hair flipping doesn’t really suggest a sincere apology. If someone is apologizing constantly (gratuitously) they don’t seem to be as self confident which invites doubt about the quality of their work. I used to work with someone who had anxiety issues and apologized far more than he needed to and I know it definitely hurt him/his reputation in the workplace and socially.

    “But when girls apologize gratuitously, they forfeit their power to disagree, challenge or be upset in confrontations of any magnitude.”
    I feel that this is very true. People perceive you to be a doormat. Being polite is one thing, but what this post is talking about is taking it way above and beyond being polite.

  7. i am absolutely one of those people who apologizes for apologizing, among other silly things. and, yes, sometimes it is completely ridiculous. but sometimes it is just fine – good even.

    for me, excess apologies fall into two categories: social awkwardness and truth.

    i say a lot of dumb things because talking to people makes me nervous; “sorry” is one of them. in this regard it is filler text, and the problem isn’t that the word is “sorry”, the problem is that i panic when i talk to people. and the actual problem has gotten infinitely better since teenagedom, so the symptom has too. in that respect, i get what this is saying.

    but on the other hand, i think there’s not a damn thing wrong with being sorry that you forgot to put a cover page on your paper. nor with saying so. because when you screw up, you should be sorry for it. you should also fix it, obviously, but since when did apologizing for mistakes become inappropriate? sure, it should be equivalent to the problem.

    i think the other point of confusion people have about us apologizers is that sorry has more than one meaning: it’s not always “i am sorry that i did xxx” sometimes it’s “i’m sorry that that happened” or “i’m sorry that you feel that way” or “i’m sorry that you don’t like it when i say i’m sorry, but i nonetheless think it is worthwhile to do”.

    so, maybe we should clarify sometimes, i’ll give you that. but i do not think that apologizing is a sign of weakness. if anything, i feel like a willingness to be empathetic and to take responsibility makes it doubly powerful when you disagree, challenge, or get upset.


  8. Huh. I definitely feel like Amanda (I was constantly being told to STOP APOLOGIZING by professors, managers, co-workers, etc…), but even though I would apologize immediately at the tiniest thing, I honestly do mean it every time. I suppose part of it could be that I don’t want to stress other people out by starting something, so I’ll “just take this one” for now, but it’s mostly because I feel sorry. As another commenter said, I instantly look for ways I could have been better in the situation, and instantly feel regret that I didn’t realize them before the situation happened.

    Also, a BIG thing I want to point out is that “sorry” can mean both “I did something wrong and I feel guilty/sorrow/whatever” AND “I sympathize with your situation, I know you must be upset/annoyed/hurt”.

    In the case of the missing cover letter, I would feel guilt for not listening to the professor and causing them a small amount of trouble because my report isn’t as easily recognizable or gradeable or whatnot. I will fix the problem, but I also want the professor to know that I wasn’t just being lazy, or disrespectful, or apathetic – I truly did forget and would never purposefully do so!

    Anyway, despite people telling me to stop apologizing my whole life, no one has ever said they were worried people would think I’m a pushover. I think this is because, despite apologizing for something that isn’t my fault, I will defend myself afterwards, and NOT be pushed over if someone does push.

  9. I think is quite common to apologize a lot. Amongst men and women. Or at least where I’m from.

    In Canada, our culture is very much centered around being polite and sympathetic. This involves using the word sorry a lot. When someone bumps into me on the street, (usually) both of us will say sorry. When I was in school and I forgot to staple my paper, I said sorry (then recitfied it). If I’m in line at the checkout and I’m trying to find a quarter I apologize.

    Hell I even apologize when someone chastizes me for apologizing!

    But there is a big difference between saying your sorry and being a doormat. Here it’s considered polite. We equate “Sorry” with “Excuse me” or “Pardon me”. We realize that something has disrupted the norm, and we’re acknowledging that.

    As well, many people apologize when they are empathizing. They feel bad for you, and therefore saying “sorry” is like saying “I wish I could make those bad feelings/situations go away for you…but I can’t.” However, most of us probably won’t say “sorry” if someone cuts in front of us. Or almost knocks us over on their bike. Instead we’ll stay silent and mutter “jerk” under our breath.

    But I’m a serial-apologist. My husband will tell me I apologize when no apology is needed. But I feel bad about the situation (even if it’s not my fault), so I apologize to make myself better. It’s almost something selfish. We’ve been trying to come up with something as a replacement for sorry. Right now I say, “I feel bad about this even though I’m not at fault”.

    • My favorite Canadian moment: I was in Vancouver, driving around very late at night. An out of service bus drove by, and it’s sign read “OUT OF SERVICE, SORRY.”

      Buses in the United States NEVER apologize for being out of service.

      • Really? I am honestly so surprised to hear that American buses never apologize! I’ve been in several Canadian cities and seen the “sorry not in service” message. It’s pretty standard! It never occurred to me (as a Canadian) that that was unique to Canada!

    • “We equate “Sorry” with “Excuse me” or “Pardon me”.”

      This! So true! “I’m sorry, but you dropped your phone” doesn’t mean you’re apologizing for someone dropping their phone, but rather “Excuse me for interrupting, but you dropped your phone” which is polite.

  10. When I read this I instantly thought of the character of Ellen from the Canadian series Slings and Arrows (dark comedy about a group of Shakespearean actors), who always (insincerely) says “Sorry! Sorry everyone!”

    Ed is the big apologizer in our house. He apologizes for everything (especially for apologizing too much); he never wants to be any trouble to any one in any way, ever. Over apologizing is something that isn’t isolated to women. Whenever I find myself on the verge of being annoyed at him for apologizing, I instead say to him (in a less than perfect Canadian accent) “Sorry! Sorry, everyone!” and we laugh and things are better.

  11. Hmm, there are some interesting perspectives here in the comments from serial apologizers.
    I offer a different perspective as the older cousin to two young ladies who have constantly apologized since a very young age. It makes me feel: a) sad for them because they are giving the impression they have very little self worth/self confidence, and b) annoyed at times, and c) like any apology, or most, may not be sincere since they do it all the freakin’ time. Now, I get that this may not be the case, but I think it’s worth putting out there that this may be the impression given, regardless of the intention.

  12. Related phrase that some girls learn to say to smooth over social interactions: “I don’t know, but…” When I was a teen I knew a few girls who started practically every statement this way, “I don’t know, I feel bad because…” “I don’t know, George Washington was the first president.” And to this day I find myself doing it so that I don’t seem like a know-it-all. But usually I DO know! Why do I feel the need to pretend I don’t before I lay some knowledge down?

    • *Geek hat*

      This kind of linguistic behaviour is called ‘hedging’, or ‘face-saving’. You’re trying to lessen the potential that what you say will upset/affront/challenge the other person.

      It’s generally more common in women, or in people who are in a less powerful position than the person they are talking to. It’s a phenomenon that’s related to politeness, but it’s kind of about not challenging the power dynamics of the relationship too much.

      The gender divide on this kind of thing is (apparently) narrowing, but I can totally see that it’s still common among teenage girls – who are often in positions where they don’t want to challenge powerful people. As the author puts it, Good Girls don’t challenge power structures, whether that’s teachers, bosses, or more confident friends.

      The ‘sorry’ thing could well be part of this too.

      Anyway, my point is, this is a recognised behaviour, with understandable social reasons behind it – but it’s not necessary, and you can totally train yourself out of it, if you want to. πŸ™‚

      • It’s exactly the relation to the hedging gender different that makes the apologizing thing ring up warning bells for me.

        I have a job where I send out a lot of emails interpreting data. I have to go back and remove at least one case of unnecessary hedging every time (and often more!). Before the removal of the hedges, I come across as wishy washing or wimpy (and I really don’t want to do that.) Similarly, I think (there’s hedging right there!) in a professional type arena constantly apologizing for things could (hedge #2) lead to people taking you as less confident or less competent.

    • This is so me. I usually start with, “I think,” when really – I KNOW. I don’t want to sound bossy or like a know-it-all, but I’m trying to cut back on this habit because I may not know it ALL, but I know some stuff.

      Also, online or via text, I’ve noticed that people write “lol” or include a smiley face after things they don’t want to seem rude or harsh. People are interesting creatures πŸ™‚

  13. Haha, this reminds me of the (admittedly terrible) girls’ soccer team I used to play on. We constantly apologized for everything: bumping into each other, missing a goal, making a bad pass, and TO PLAYERS ON THE OTHER TEAM. Apology soccer.

  14. I’ve known two chronic sorry sayers, and they both came from emotionally volatile homes. It was more about being terrified of having someone raging at them over nothing, than it was about manipulating anyone. I later had another friend who was about trying to get everyone else to stop saying sorry superfluously, and I found it obnoxiously holier than thou, and assuming of the reasons someone might be that way. There could be so many motivations…

  15. We did a behavior modification project in my high school psych class. One of my peers chose over-apologizing as her behavior to change, and I always remembered it because it is such a common thing in our culture. I am not an over-apologizer on the street but in my home, I’m the worst. Sometimes I can feel my husband losing respect for me as I prattle on “sorry” for not loading the dishwasher to his tastes or taking the last piece of bread. It’s hard! And men don’t seem to do it.

    • “men don’t seem to do it.”

      Hubs and I had this problem early on. He only apologises when he’s convinced he’s clearly done something wrong. I need him to apologise for hurting me (emotionally) unintentionally swiftly so I can move on and we can resolve our argument. I over apologised for ages and would get bitter that I cared so much for his feelings and being resolved but he didn’t care as much for me (which he does, but his lack of apologetic communication communicated differently). He’s heaps better now, but when he doesn’t realise, I still need to prompt him to acknowledge his (unintentional) fault.

      • I’ve noticed the same thing – my husband seems to see apologising as an admission of guilt, whereas I see it as an acknowledgement that his feelings have been hurt, regardless of fault.

  16. This post reminded me of the scene in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes where Kathy Bates’ character is leaving a store with two sackfuls of groceries, and a young hoodlum shoves rudely past her, nearly knocking her over. Bates’s character immediately says something like “Oh, I’m sorry!” but the hoodlum turns back and sneers an insult at her.

    The scene is, I think, meant to illustrate just this type of overly-apologetic behavior in Bates character – throughout much of the movie she places herself in a position of weakness by not demanding the common decency and respect every person deserves. Eventually the character learns that if you constantly act like a doormat, people will wipe their feet on you without a second thought.

    In this post I feel that Amanda’s teacher was trying to wake her up to the knowledge that in some cases an apology makes you the bigger, stronger, more mature person. But in some cases it can send a signal that you don’t warrant respect (such as in the case of the jerk in the stairwell). In instances like that, by apologizing you’re doing yourself a disservice.

  17. I get told all the time that I apologize too much, and I probably am a pushover. I actually apologized for not being able to control my legs shaking during labor. And then for not breathing how they wanted me to (to be fair, what I was hearing was “don’t make noises, it’s a waste of strength. but don’t hold your breath. but don’t pant”, and I was damn confused) and taking too long during the pushing bit.

    I’m getting better though. I figure with a child now I’m going to have to learn to act like an adult, not a meek little kid. I just have to continually convice myself that speaking up does not equal being rude.

    • Having my daughter has made me more assertive, and actually made me realize I’m a feminist (instead of hedging in my self-defining). I have to be a strong mama bear now, especially since I have a girl cub.

  18. It’s interesting to hear the Canadians about their culture of being polite and apologizing. I didn’t really know that (haven’t been there yet, which is probably why. I’m dutch and I’m the same. A quick look on the internet will tell you that the dutch are by many foreigners considered to be the rudest people that ever walked the planet. (seriously, you’ll start to think we’ll have to be exterminated.)

    So it seems that of our ‘sorry-saying’ can stem from local culture, global social conventions concerning gender (I guess in most societies girls are more raised to saying sorry then boys), our specific character and our specific situation/experience. It’s probably a mix of two or more of those.

    Nice post. It really made me think about WHY I actually apologize so much πŸ™‚

    (Oh, and I almost wanted to apologize for my crappy way of putting things into words as a non-native english speaker :))

  19. I’m British and I so empathise with the Canadian approach to politeness and apologising. Like others have said, I equate ‘sorry’ with ‘pardon me’ or ‘excuse me’ and it’s not at all about being a pushover.

  20. My oldest son, 11, has done a bit of apologizing when he didn’t need to. Instead of telling him that he didn’t need to apologize for everyhing, I’ve found it better to give him the words to say. “I’ll go fix that now” or “I’ll do that differently next time” or “When would you like that fixed by?”

    I think sometimes people apolgize because they don’t know what to say.

    • Oh, I just realized I’ve done this with my own behavior. Telling someone “okay, will do X, Y and Z to fix it” feels a lot more powerful than sorry, and I’ve noticed people really seem to appreciate it.

  21. My sister is 18 and she is the girl who apologises for saying sorry too much. I’m the opposite, aside from saying sorry if someone bumps into me I’m an actions over words kind of person. Like yesterday I upset said sister so to show I’m sorry I did all her chores.
    My boyfriend uses sorry as an excuse to make the same mistakes. Don’t be sorry just fix it!

  22. my daughter does this all the time and it drives me crazy. she apologizes for things that don’t require it, but won’t apologize when it is appropriate.

    i strongly agree with the above commenter that it really depends on the intent behind it. since my husband is french canadian there is a lot of ‘sorry!’ that goes around in our household & so i can see how it would be confusing to her.

    so my husband & i have been trying to coach her on when it’s ok to say ‘i’m sorry’ and when she doesn’t have to. we don’t want it to become something that is either a self esteem issue or a manipulative issue either.

    i think intent is the key & coaching when it’s appropriate and when it’s not strikes the right balance.

  23. I remember reading something that helped me kick the sorry habit; often just replacing the sorry with a thank you gets the ‘real’ message across while preserving your strength, it stops you tainting the interaction with negativity leaving both people in a better place, and it takes away the explicit or implicit assumption of blame or guilt, whereas a thank you shows appreciation.

    Eg replace “sorry I’m late”, with “thank you for waiting”; “sorry for being such a downer” with “thank you for understanding” or “sorry to ask you to do this” with “thanks for your help”.

    Save the sorry for when it’s needed and people will take it (and you) more seriously.

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