Growing up doesn鈥檛 mean never having to say you鈥檙e sorry. But if you鈥檝e grown up as a woman, you鈥檙e probably apologizing too much. While a humble and gracious apology certainly has its place, saying you鈥檙e sorry for things that aren鈥檛 your fault is not winning you any points in the career or relationship department. The good news is that this chronic habit can be curbed with a few simple tricks that will re-wire your mind to communicate with confidence. #sorrynotsorry!

Cheerful woman smiling in city street

STep One: Don鈥檛 Be Sorry

Seems pretty simple, but that doesn鈥檛 mean it鈥檚 easy. You don鈥檛 need an in-depth psychoanalysis to admit to yourself that you want to be liked, and offering an apology to peers and superiors is a quick way to turn down the volume when you鈥檙e asking for something, which makes you feel more likable. Or maybe, like many women, you鈥檙e simply afraid of being perceived as rude. Perhaps you dread sounding brash. Maybe you cringe when you hear yourself ask for things because you feel 鈥渄emanding.鈥

Chances are, your threshold for what constitutes being offensive is probably quite low. According to a study published in Psychological Science, women tend to apologize four times as much as men do 鈥 but they also tend to see themselves as committing offensive behavior much more often. This means our self-perception of what people are thinking of our actions and reactions makes us feel like we need to apologize for everything.

But let us put it this way: YES, IT IS OKAY TO WANT THINGS. It鈥檚 okay to have needs. It鈥檚 okay to be a human being in the year 2017 who identifies as a woman and yet also has goals and ambitions. When you apologize for having, you know, realistic expectations, you鈥檙e actually damaging the collective social underpinning of those expectations. If someone feels negatively toward you because you dare to address your needs, wants, and self-actualization process, that鈥檚 on them.

So don鈥檛 pretend to be the problem when you鈥檙e not. The sooner you can give yourself the gift of saying 鈥淚DGAF,鈥 the better off you鈥檒l be 鈥 and you鈥檒l find those 鈥渟orries鈥 aren鈥檛 so quick to fly.


When you鈥檙e reframing your state of mind to be less apologetic, it might take some getting used to. Remember that silence can be a pretty efficient communication tool; practice taking a moment between receiving information and responding to it. Imagine how you鈥檒l feel about the words you want to use before you let them escape. Part of being overly apologetic comes from feeling pressure to react to situations before we鈥檙e ready to address the issues the situations force us to confront. Don鈥檛 be afraid to wait a beat before you speak, especially if frustration or embarrassment is the first emotion you feel.

During your pause, remind yourself that apologizing for something doesn鈥檛 necessarily make an undesirable conversation easier for the other person, either. In fact, psychiatric research tells us that saying you鈥檙e sorry doesn鈥檛 even make the recipient of the apology feel any better about what they鈥檙e hearing; it simply makes the conversation more difficult to have because the other party feels obliged to offer forgiveness.

聽Step three: Say What You鈥檙e Trying to Say

Often, 鈥渟orry鈥 is used as a way to soften the blow when we need to communicate something disappointing or inconvenient to somebody else. Instead of apologizing for what you need to say, try to get out of your own way and just say it. No need to add degrees of dread or anticipation to your delivery.

If you find it difficult to disappoint somebody without offering an empty apology first, start small by expressing your regret in a less self-effacing way. Language like 鈥淚 hate to be the one to tell you this,鈥 or 鈥淚鈥檇 hoped for a different outcome鈥 addresses your feelings without the crown of blame that a 鈥渟orry鈥 places on your head. There鈥檚 no need to be a martyr when it comes to, you know, making statements.

If you feel like someone is waiting for you to fulfill the social expectation of an empty apology, don鈥檛 play along. Turn their expectation on its head by doing something far more gracious and issuing a 鈥渢hank you.鈥 Thanking someone for their feedback, input, or even negative criticism lets people know that you鈥檙e self-assured enough to communicate maturely. Remember that it鈥檚 more impressive to take criticism in stride than to pretend that you鈥檙e supposed to be perfect.

Step Four: Feel Free to Forgive鈥 Yourself

It鈥檚 a good idea to try to wean yourself off the self-deprecating sorry cycle. But if you figure out that you鈥檙e not quite ready to cut apologies out of the way you communicate, that鈥檚 okay too. Getting upset about these kinds of habits because they鈥檙e hard to change is counterproductive.

Seizing control of your own narrative is about finding a way to speak that emboldens you and highlights your strengths. If you鈥檙e distracted by self-doubt and criticism over your habitual apologies, that鈥檚 not going to work to your advantage, either. By becoming more aware of the words that you use, and the reasons why you鈥檙e using them, you鈥檙e already more empowered.

Have any tips for how to stop apologizing for things that aren鈥檛 your fault? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)