Stop Apologizing!*

*unless it’s actually your fault.

I’ve noticed something recently that that bugging the hell out of me.

When I am walking somewhere, and need to go by someone, as I pass them, sometimes they say, “Sorry!”

They aren’t even necessarily in my way. I may have to take one step to the side or something, but if they were blocking me, I would simply say, “Excuse me”, smile, and go on by.

Usually, the person saying sorry is a woman.

My response to this unnecessary sorry is usually a bright, “Nope!” by which I mean to convey, “You have no reason to apologize to me. Please carry on.”

Ladies, stop saying sorry for things you don’t need to be sorry for. (Here’s a helpful list.) When an apology is the first thing out of your mouth, the listener is already discounting what comes after it.

“I’m sorry, but could you please review this copy so I can make my deadline?” Is it that person’s job to review your copy? You don’t need to apologize for asking him/her to do his/her job.

“I’m sorry, but I really think the marketing message should be about our excellent service.” If you feel strongly about it, why the hell are you apologizing?

“I’m sorry I mistakenly ate your yogurt. I thought it was mine.” That you can apologize for. You didn’t mean to steal someone’s food; you made an honest mistake.

“I’m sorry I ate that donut.” Are you really sorry you ate that donut? Did you want it? Did it taste delicious? Are you apologizing because you are socialized to believe that women should not eat delicious fattening food, especially in public? Knock that shit off. Enjoy the donut.

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” This is a tricky one. If you are not sorry for what you did, but do feel bad that someone is upset, this can be a legitimate apology. For example, you choose blue sheets because you think they will look nice in the guest room, but your partner hates them. However, if you’ve actually been an ass, you should try to own up to it. Like if you chose the blue sheets even though you know your partner hates them.

If I walk into the ladies’ room, and you are washing your hands, you do not automatically have to say, “Sorry!” I’m probably not headed right to the sink anyway. I probably have other business first. But even if I am going to use the sink first, if I have to brush my teeth for example, you still don’t have to apologize. You were here first. I can wait. It’s no big deal.

Now, if I’m walking into the ladies’ room, and you open the door at exactly the same time I’m pushing on the door, and we startle each other, we can both say “sorry!” That’s always polite.

If this is you, please think before you say, “Sorry, but…”. Do you actually need to be sorry? Have you committed a grievous error that in the future you will try not to commit?

Otherwise, your “sorry” belittles you, makes you seem smaller and less important. Don’t do that to yourself. You feelings are legitimate; your opinions are important. You are an agent in the world.

Don’t be sorry for that.