The Reasons We Over-Apologise
‘Oops! Sorry!’, I said to the guy I had tripped up next to.
He immediately said ‘Don’t be sorry!’
And I thought, ‘oh yeah, why am I sorry?!’
I hadn’t inconvenienced him at all. If anything, I could have hurt myself, and yet my automatic response was to say ‘sorry’ to him.
Although this is just a small example, it got me thinking about how many other things we apologise about, when we really don’t need to.
We might apologise before speaking up and asking a question in a meeting.
We might apologise before having to complain about something in a restaurant. Even when there is something wrong with food.
We might apologise for taking up too much space in a seat on the bus.
Some of us might apologise for the way we look; because we’re not wearing make-up or because we believe we’re not wearing the right clothes or shoes (in fact, according to Brene Brown, our body and appearance is the biggest cause of shame for women).
Something that I’ve noticed about myself is that sometimes I’ll pre-empt things (like asking for what I want) with an apology because I don’t want to appear like a bitch!
These things can seem almost silly and unnecessary when we really think about them.
Although probably most of us have done this at some time or another.
But why DO we apologise so much?
There’s an obvious social advantage to apologising; to keep the peace and avoid fights or confrontations. And of course it’s a good thing to apologise when we really have done something wrong.
However, over-apologising could be a symptom of low self esteem and confidence, or a sense of shame about ourselves.
If this is the case, apologising all the time could reinforce these things and in turn, impact our position in the workplace, in our relationships and stop us from getting what we really want (like warm food in a restaurant, a raise at work, or more help around the house).
When we over-apologise we’re sending a message to ourselves and others that we’re somehow ‘less than’, or not worthy.
Well, I want you to know; you are worthy, you have a right to be here, you have a right to take up space, to speak up, and be seen and heard. You’re not a bitch for asking for what you want and you look just great without make-up. You don’t owe a made-up face to any body.
So, I’d like to extend this challenge to you – to notice all the ways that you apologise when it’s not really needed. Keep a note of it during the day.
Can you instead respond in a bold, brave and confident way?
This might take practise but having awareness is the first step to changing.
Who knows, it might help you to change the way you think about yourself.
I’d love to hear in the comments what things you apologise for when it’s not really necessary.
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