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January 17, 2018


Kathy Lynn Emerson

When I was a kid and screwed up and said I was sorry, my mother would always reply "sorry doesn't help." It took me a long time to understand what she was getting at, but it sure did make me aware of what I was apologizing for and keep the apologies simple.

Elaine Viets

My mother said that, too, Kathy Lynn. It must be in the Mom's Manual.


I'm sorry you are feeling that way. Honestly, I think that apologizing more could go a long way in our current society where people feel they are too entitled. Yes, Lisa was a bit over the top in her apology, but at least she took responsibility for her actions.

What's wrong with apologizing for being in someone's way even when you had the right to be there too or when interrupting people to discuss work instead of gossip?

If over apologizing is the least of your sins, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And, as I said before, I think we need more of that in society today.

And I'm not sorry for repeating myself.

Elaine Viets

You're right, Mark. The world needs more apologies, starting at the very top -- and I'm not sorry I said that.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yeah, it's pretty interesting. Like when someone bumps into me, I always say-"oh, sorry."
When I didn't do anything!

Elaine Viets

Exactly, Hank. We're apologizing for THEIR mistake.

Storyteller Mary

In Jamaica "sorry" is used instead of "excuse me." I would respond with an assurance of "no, you're fine" as they would to my "excuse me." When it's rote manners, we don't really respond to ideas as much as the expression of courtesy.
Another self-diminishing habit is adding a qualifier like "I think" or "I just think" to a statement instead of confidently putting it forward. I used to make a point of that when helping students write stronger papers.
. . . and then there's that questioning inflection at the end of declarative sentences, which makes it hard to even listen to some speakers . . .

Elaine Viets

". . . and then there's that questioning inflection at the end of declarative sentences, which makes it hard to even listen to some speakers . . ."
You got me there, Mary. I hate that habit and I'm not sorry about it, either.

Toni LP Kelner

Elaine, in fact there is proof to back up the observation that women apologize more than men.


I think your goal to limit your apologies to those times when you have something to apologize for is a great idea. Apologizing too often can be off-putting. if I'm giving somebody feedback, I don't want them to say "I'm sorry." I want them to say, "I understand and will do something about it," or even, "I don't agree, and I'm not changing."

Elaine Viets

Good points, Toni, and thanks for the proof.


I've become more aware of how often I apologize for things I have no need to apologize for. I've been making an effort to stop apologizing for existing. I'm still polite: "please", "thank you", and "excuse me" I continue to use liberally but "I'm sorry" is reserved for when I make a mistake.

Elaine Viets

A good resolution, Alexia, and one that I should try to follow.

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