None of us are perfect, and this means we do make mistakes. Being able to apologise and say sorry about these mistakes is a powerful thing. Apologising helps to release us from the guilt we feel, it helps to restore trust and in some cases it helps us save face.
That being said, apologising too much can be a bad thing. For example, how many times have you started a question with “I’m sorry to ask this, but…”? Or said “I’m sorry” when someone bumps into you when walking? Apologising too much can come off as lacking in confidence.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, self-criticism is usually to blame. It could be that we’re too hard on ourselves or have unrealistic expectations of how we should behave, and when we don’t meet these expectations – we feel the need to apologise.
Take a look at the following situations and why you shouldn’t have to apologise when they happen.
1. When you’re expressing your feelings
Telling someone how you feel is a responsibility in any relationship – whether it’s with your partner, family or friends. Letting them know how you feel about something will help them understand you better, which is important in a relationship. If you do apologise for the way you feel about something, you are minimising yourself.
2. When you need some ‘me-time’
The amount of quiet time you need day-to-day will depend on your personality. For example those who are more introverted will need more than others. Needing space is something you shouldn’t have to apologise for. Simply say you need some time to yourself and don’t worry about justifying your needs. If the person you’re telling this to is upset by this, it’s a reaction coming from their issues, not yours.
3. When you need to ask a question
This is a common situation in the workplace. You need clarification, but don’t want to appear incompetent, so you apologise for having to ask a question. Ironically, doing this is what can invalidate opinions. Instead of starting a question with an apology, be direct and explain that you need further information. You will be respected more for asking for what you need.
4. When you don’t immediately respond
If someone texts, calls or emails you, it can feel like you have to respond straight away. Apologising for not getting back to them can make an issue out of something that wasn’t a big deal in the first place. It also sends the message that your agenda is not as important as their agenda. Instead, try acknowledging their message and explain that you’re busy – “I haven’t forgotten about you, just really busy at work”. The recipient will appreciate you acknowledging their needs.