A while back, I started keeping track of how often I actually apologize in my daily life. It was brought to my attention by a friend after spending some time with her at the mall.
”You always apologize” she said.
I wanted to get defensive and tell her that it really wasn’t that bad – until I realized I really do apologize a lot. In just two days, I apologized for the following things:
- I’m sorry for being in your way
- I’m sorry for getting back to you so late
- I’m sorry for having to ask this
- (In a meeting) I’m sorry, before we move on..
- (On the phone) I’m sorry, before you hang up..
And once I even said ”I’m sorry for apologizing so much” which took the freaking cake.
Can you relate? Do you wish you could stop? I certainly did. I did a little research to help understand this habit better, and then experimented with my way of speaking a bit, and I think I found a good solution!
Women apologize more than men
If you think you hear women apologize more often than men, you’re completely right.
“Men aren’t actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions,” said study researcher Karina Schumann, a student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
“It seems to be that when they think they’ve done something wrong they do apologize just as frequently as when women think they’ve done something wrong. It’s just that they think they’ve done fewer things wrong.”
The threshold for what women think is offensive is lower in general, which is why we apologize a lot more. We tend to think we’re a lot more offensive than we actually are, even if the person we’re communicating with isn’t even offended in the first place.
I know from personal experience that saying sorry is something I do out of habit, ‘just in case’ someone is offended: I’d rather say sorry then to be seen as unmotivated or lazy. But what this research doesn’t tell us is why women are so much more apologetic than men. Read More »