While we all understand that we should apologize when we’ve done something wrong, many of us take this spirit of repentance way too far. When saying “I’m sorry” becomes a reflex, we can end up hurting ourselves. Furthermore, these empty apologies do not help the people for whom they are intended, and may even frustrate and irritate them. Below are six good reasons to withhold your apology and carry on with your day.
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You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
How many times have you told someone you were sorry when you were actually certain that they bumped into you? Choosing to apologize implies submission, so doing so when you are not wrong can damage your sense of self-respect and make you look like a pushover to others. Next time, look the offending party in the eye and wait for an acknowledgement. It’s a daring move, but you will build strength and confidence each time you stand up for yourself. It will also change the way others treat you.
You are Giving a Presentation
You researched thoroughly, outlined expertly, and practiced a million times in front of the mirror, your roommate, and your mother. Why, then, do you apologize at the beginning of your speech? This is a misstep often made by young people who lack confidence when speaking in front of a group. It comes from the feeling that you expected more of yourself. You wish you were about to absolutely blow them away, rather than deliver your standard, boring report. However, doing this communicates that you are embarrassed of your work, embarrassed for yourself, and do not feel that you deserve to be an authority on your topic. It not only diminishes your credibility to your audience, but also to yourself. This can cause you to bumble through the entirety of your presentation, losing steam as you go. Begin your speech standing tall and pretending to be confident, and the audience will trust in your authority. Soon, their positive feedback will make the swagger in your step feel more sincere.
You’ve Already Apologized Repeatedly
Saying that you are sorry for an action you have repeated over and over again, and then continuing to offend in the same way, causes you to lose credibility. A more sincere way to show your contrition would be to promise to do better in the future – and then actually follow through. After you have rebuilt some trust, your apologies will become meaningful again.
You’re Trying to Get Someone’s Attention
Imagine you are a beautiful woman being approached in a bar. One man says “Sorry, I couldn’t help but notice you….” and another says “Hi, I’m Nate”, with a winning smile. Who is leaving a better first impression? By using an apology as a conversation-starter, you are undermining yourself and implying that your attention is an inconvenience. Lose the unnecessary apology, and you will seem ten times more confident.
You Are Sharing Your Opinion
It might feel less intimidating to say “I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with spanking as punishment.” However, the effect is actually more confrontational than simply stating your truth. “Oh, we don’t spank,” sounds less argumentative because you are not apologizing for having a different viewpoint. The second statement implies that there is nothing wrong with having a different stance on spanking, and by extension validates both parties’ choices. The first, by using “I’m sorry,” insinuates that it is not okay to disagree on this topic.
You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident
“An apology or an admission of being at fault could be used against you later when determining who is responsible for the collision,” says Natalie Dupuis, senior product manager of auto with RBC insurance. You may be sorry that the other person got injured, even if you weren’t at fault. However, expressing your sympathies could very easily be misconstrued as admitting guilt. Even if you are at fault, you should avoid using this phrase in order to minimize your liability and the possible insurance repercussions.
It is always best to save your apologies for the moments in which they are truly warranted. Not only will they be more meaningful, but you will have put an end to unwittingly invalidating your own feelings, opinions, and accomplishments. Although it takes a conscious effort to form this habit, you will soon find yourself to be more confident and your moments of genuine contrition to be more sincere.