‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ according to Elton John, but I don’t think so… I think that perhaps we are saying ‘sorry’ a little too much, in fact.
And we’re maybe not using it for the stuff that really matters either.
Somehow, sorry seems to have wormed its way into our general day-to-day chat, and seems to roll off the tongue for some people without any real thought.
This whole ‘sorry’ thing caught my attention the other day when I was working 1-2-1 with a really enigmatic lady. She’s a heart-centred professional in every sense. She’s stupendously talented and totally gorgeous. She knows her stuff and is good at her job. I have absolutely no doubt in her ability and she is confident that her outcome is fabulous.
BUT, she has this habit…
She had a tendency to liberally use the word ‘sorry’ LIKE ALL THE TIME!
I noticed it quite early on as we discussed the day’s brief. I let it go. Perhaps she’d relax into our time together I thought? Perhaps she was nervous?
By the way… in no way am I picking on her here, or being a meanie. I’m sure she would totally say the same thing about her habit.
But ‘sorry’ kept persisting; it kept making its way into our conversation… So I decided to be brave and let ‘sorry’ know I was onto it!
‘You don’t have to be sorry, lovely!’ I said.
‘Gosh, I know I do it all the time, I am going to make a real effort not to.’
And so we continued with our chat – and had a few giggles every time the word ‘sorry’ sneaked out. It really highlighted how it had become second nature, and how she had to make a big effort to cut it out of her general conversation.
So, why is the use of the word ‘sorry’ even a thing?
‘Sorry’ is a very powerful word and when used in its truest sense, it shows a massive amount of respect.
But overusing the word ‘sorry’ can appear insincere, it can make you look passive, or a bit of a walkover… it can totally disempower you.
‘Sorry’ needs to be reserved for the times when you truly need to be sorry – not when you are simply asking people to take some form of action, or get involved in a conversation or to pass someone by.
My children try to get away with throwing ‘sorry’ out there without any thought, but as a family, it’s something we’re all conscious of. I know that it’s important if we are saying ‘sorry’ for stuff that’s happened, things we’ve done, and general shitty situations, but an everyday, roll-too-easily-off-the-tongue kinda ‘sorry’ means nothing if it’s not expressed with feeling.
Are you a Sorry-er?
Do you find yourself using the word more often than you should?
Keep it in mind over the next week or so. Don’t beat yourself up for using it but try to take a mental note each time you are inclined to add the ‘sorry’ word in there.
Try exchanging ‘sorry’ for different words instead, like:
- ‘Excuse me’
- ‘Thank you’
- ‘I wonder if’
- ‘Perhaps we could’
And see how you get on.
Think, too, about how you feel when you’re inclined to use the word ‘sorry’. Are you a little worried about a reaction from someone? Are you uncomfortable asking for help? Are you conscious that you’re asking too much of someone? Are you bothered about the sentence on an emotional level?
It might be that there is something behind the word or it might be that it’s simply a habit you have fallen into. Either way, it’s time to stop saying sorry.
Reserve the word ‘sorry’ for the important stuff…
– like the times when you need to apologise; and
– the times when you need to show sympathy.
And remember, ‘sorry’ is a super powerful word, but equally, it’s also a word that can also disempower you.
Don’t always be sorry, be sorry when it matters.