We’ve all apologized for something unnecessarily, like when someone bumps into you and it’s an automatic reaction to say “sorry.” Apologizing when you need to is a good thing, but many of us do it more often and psychologist Mariam Iqbal points out that women tend to do it more than men.
So why is over apologizing bad? Kate Gigax, an organizational psychologist, explains, “We often just sprinkle in apologies into our language and that can really diminish our power.” And if you’re constantly saying “sorry,” it can affect not just how others see you, but also how you see yourself.
Want to break your over apologizing habit? Here’s what the experts recommend to stop saying “sorry” unnecessarily:
- Try a new perspective – “When we focus on our weaknesses, we become what we focus on – we become weaker,” explains Gigax. So instead of focusing on how awkward or unworthy we feel, she suggests flipping your internal dialogue and embracing your strengths, reminding yourself that your thoughts deserve to be heard. She says, “If you don’t believe that you’re the one who should be speaking, then you need to ask yourself ‘why not me?’”
- Replace “sorry” with “thank you” – Mariam suggests trying to change your thinking and recommends, “Give yourself permission to take up space, especially in a work setting.” She says the next time you catch yourself apologizing for voicing your thoughts, instead try saying, “Thank you for listening.” Or instead of saying sorry when you’re running late, try saying, “thank you for your patience.”
- Be kind to yourself – Breaking this habit can be challenging, especially for those who experience social anxiety, so Mariam points out that there’s no need to overwhelm yourself all at once. “Start small,” she recommends. She also advises taking an introspective look into why you over apologize and challenging the things that lead you to do it.