Why Apologize If You Don't Mean It

March 30, 2021

A ton of people make this mistake all the time and they think that "I said I was sorry" is some magic phrase that automatically excuses their actions or at least makes them sound a little less guilty.

They might also say it helps people accept responsibility for their actions. But the fact of the matter is that saying "I'm sorry" really is not an effective apology.

Let's go over the arguments for why it's not the best move to apologize.

1. Everyone understands that actions speak louder than words

Black man apologizing while talking with girlfriend

Even if you said that you were sorry but also know that you aren't sorry about it, it's best to remain silent and let the facts speak for themselves.

People often misunderstand the fact that "I'm sorry" doesn't actually mean anything. In reality, we live in a society where "I'm sorry" is often used as a form of an excuse.

It's used when the intent is to blame someone else.

Here's a story about the one excuse we always hear: A woman had her son go to the store to get her a few groceries.

She also gave him the money for the groceries. When she went to the checkout counter, the cashier handed her a receipt.

She then asked the cashier for the balance of her groceries. When the cashier said it was $8, the woman complained that her son had given her the money for the groceries.

To this, the cashier responded: "It's my job to get the price and produce right. I don't get the price right and I don't get produce right, so if you don't want me to get it right, don't give me your money."

This should have been the end of the story, but of course, it wasn't.

Instead of getting mad at the cashier for not getting the price right, the woman walked out of the store without her groceries.

When she told the boy about it, he told her she needed to apologize for making him pay for the groceries.

She refused to apologize and instead blamed the cashier for what had happened. She blamed the cashier because she wanted to believe she was the only one who was at fault.

If she were more observant, she would have seen the other woman that was also waiting in line to pay for her groceries.

She might have even caught a glimpse of the cashier looking at the woman's groceries with a look of disgust on her face.

But she chose to focus on the wrong person instead. Instead of blaming her son, she blamed the cashier and she did so in a way that made it sound like she was more accountable for the incident than the cashier.

If this woman were to apologize to the cashier and show genuine remorse, the cashier would likely feel more obligated to give her son the correct change. She would see that it wasn't a reflection of her abilities.

2. Saying you're sorry is like your little brother or cousin telling you to shut up when you're not listening to them

Sticky note with apology

This may seem a little rude, but it's true. Saying you're sorry sounds like your little brother or cousin telling you to shut up.

The thing is that we do often agree to say that we're sorry when someone is in trouble or we've been involved in an embarrassing incident.

For example, if you hurt your hand and you accidentally say you're sorry, it doesn't mean you're sorry for hurting your hand.

You're apologizing because you need to calm your little brother down.

However, if you say that you're sorry for something you know you should be apologizing for but aren't, you're definitely not sorry.

3. Saying you're sorry allows you to win an argument

Don't get me wrong. A sincere apology is always better than saying nothing at all. It's a simple, yet important step.

The example above, it's a good example of how saying you're sorry can let you win an argument.

If someone is yelling and you're angry, you can easily tell them to stop or they can see that you're not yelling, you can get out of the situation and you can walk away.

But if you say you're sorry, you have a chance to get the person back on their feet and apologizing.

4. Saying you're sorry sounds like your father or husband screaming at you

Somehow saying you're sorry sounds a little more motherly than fatherly.

Saying you're sorry sounds more motherly to your little brother than fatherly to your father.

I say this not to imply that you should behave emotionally, but rather, it just shows how apologizing comes off differently when it's coming from an older person.

5. Saying you're sorry makes you vulnerable

sign, sorry, character

It's OK to be a little vulnerable. I don't mean that you should let your feelings show, but it's important to be vulnerable.

In this example, you were hurt by a stranger and were able to hold it together and put on a tough facade.

While it can be difficult to be vulnerable, it helps to build trust in someone else.

6. Saying you're sorry makes you want to retaliate

This is the most selfish reason of all. Saying you're sorry makes you want to retaliate.

It's almost as if your brain tells you, "No! Don't say you're sorry!"

So, while you're trying to be sincere, the words just come out.

At least in your head. It's too late.

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