How to Stop Over-Apologising and What to do Instead

Have you ever fallen into the apology trap? 
For many women, “sorry” is not the hardest word to say.

Saying “sorry” especially when it’s not your fault is an often automatic reaction that can slip out before you even realise. For example, apologising to someone accidentally standing in your way or correcting you, even when you are not wrong?!

Studies show that women apologise more than men. This is because women perceive “offensive behaviour” differently than men do and judge the same offence to be more severe.

While apologising when you’ve done something wrong shows strength and character, over-apologising can be seen as a weakness in both your professional and personal relationships.

It lessens the strength of relationships and makes people think less of you. People lose respect for you.
You may think that you are being a “nice and caring person”, but others see as a lack of confidence and permission to mistreat you. 

Over-apologising can also be viewed as “crying wolf”. You do it so often that when you are sincerely sorry, your apology carries very little weight and people are less likely to believe you.

And less face it, it’s annoying. I’m sure you know someone who is always saying “sorry”. Yes, you understand that they mean well and are only trying to be nice, but it’s irritating!

So what can you do to stop saying “sorry” when it’s not your fault? Here are some ways to get and stay out of the apology trap:

  1. Pay Attention to how often you apologise

    Notice how often you apologise and whether you actually need to in each situation. It may be helpful to record this in a journal.
    You can also ask your loved ones to hold you accountable and alert you each time you do it.  Over time, as you become more aware of  your ‘apology patterns’, you will discover whether you are an over-apologiser. This will help you review each situation before you immediately blurt out “I’m sorry”.

  2. Know what you should and should apologise for

    If a situation is out of your control or it is a trivial and honest mistake, you don’t need to apologise. But If you really are at fault, then own up to it. Taking accountability may not be easy, but it helps strengthen relationships.

  3. Use more affirming language

    Learning  to replace apologies for affirming statements is a game-changer. You may find this challenging at first, but over time it will come naturally to you.

    Here are some examples:
    • Instead of saying “sorry to interrupt you”, say: “I’d like to add…”

    • Instead of saying “sorry to complain”, say “thank you for listening…”
    • Instead of apologising in an email, say “thank you for catching that.”
    • Instead of saying “sorry” to the impatient person trying to push their way past you, say  “here, let me get out of your way.”

  4. Get comfortable saying “No”

    Saying “no” is an effective way to protect your time. If you are swamped and your colleague asks for help, there’s no need to be sorry for not helping them. If you can’t make it to Happy Hour because you already have plans, say “I can’t make it. Maybe next time.”
    Whatever you say, be honest. You may feel guilty, but there’s no need to go out of your way just because you feel bad – you’ll only end up feeling worse.

  5. Build up your toolkit
 with a Coach
    Over-apologising is a habit that develops over time. Learning to stop requires time, effort and self-discipline. A Coach helps you build your mental toolkit with great new tools and techniques to become aware of when you are over-apologising and stop doing it.

The problem with over-apologising is that it makes people think less of you and does more harm than good.
By speaking more directly and clearly, people take you seriously and you feel  more confident.

Download our FREE Release Your Mindset Blocks Guide and discover 7 mindset blocks that keep you stuck, overwhelmed and from living the life you’re meant to live…

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