Going against what Elton John famously sang, sorry doesn’t seem to be the hardest word at all. In fact, it’s thrown around every day and everywhere with a wild and empty abandon. And that is a sad, sad situation.
How many times have you had to phone up customer services or a helpline and outline a complaint, only to have the clerk at the other end apologise, but offer up nothing by way of recompense?
How many times have you been wronged by a friend, family member or partner, only for them to say sorry, but do nothing to atone for their wrongdoing or, worse still, apologise but go on to do the thing they apologised for again?
Sorry on it’s own means nothing. It’s just a word. But, a heartfelt “sorry” together with an atonement of some kind (no matter how large or small) well now, that’s a proper apology.
However, there’s a worse sorry than an empty sorry and that’s the sorry you make for being you. It’s the sorry that has made apologising for your personality a habitual response.
How many times have you apologised for being you? How many times a day do you say sorry for something you’ve done, or said, or asked for that was actually an apology that you didn’t need to make because, in essence, you had neither said, nor done anything wrong?
You know the sorts of apology I’m on about. “Sorry I asked you to do that,” you say or, “sorry I’m so sensitive and/or annoying,” and “sorry that I always mess things up” or “sorry that I talk too much.”
Apologies such as these are like a death by a thousands cuts and what you are killing is your confidence. What is dying is the joy of being you.
If these kinds of ‘sorry’ are part of your vocabulary, why not drop them and say “thank you” instead?
You will be amazed at the results.
When you say thank you instead of sorry, you’re been grateful instead of apologetic, you’re not apologising for your personality, your expressing gratitude to someone for something.
So, instead of saying “sorry I’m late” say “thank you for waiting for me.” Swap “I’m sorry that I talk too much” to “thank you for listening to me.” Drop “sorry I’m being so sensitive and/or annoying” and adopt “thank you for being so accepting of me.” If your boss criticises you at work don’t say, “I’m sorry it wasn’t good enough,” say “thank you for showing me how to improve.” Change “I’m sorry that I always mess things up” to “thank you for being so patient with me when I make a mistake,” and see how people change the way they deal with you for the better.
You’re not doing anyone any favours by saying sorry all the time, but you’re definitely creating a more positive environment for everyone by expressing gratitude.
Plus, your confidence and sense of self will definitely thank you for it. And that’s a happy, happy situation for all concerned.