Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stop saying sorry

People say sorry WAY too often.

Especially when they didn’t do anything wrong.

For example, have you even apologized to someone:

For your art?
For the weather?
For your identity?
For being candid?
For being yourself?
For telling the truth?
For following your dream?
For it being your first day?
For crying during a movie?
For taking too long in line?
For not believing what they believed?


HERE’S THREE WORDS OF ADVICE: stop saying sorry.

Sorry is negative.
Sorry is self-blaming.
Sorry comes from the word sarig, or "distressed, full of sorrow."

Not to mention, most sorries come in the form of lame, empty promises with no intention of changing behavior.

And yet, people still over apologize. Usually for a few reasons:

1. FOR MOST PEOPLE, because it’s habitual.
They’re just used to saying sorry. They’ve never paused to think about the negative ramifications of saying it too often.

2. FOR MANY PEOPLE, because they’re afraid of offending someone.
They walk on eggshells on a daily basis due to our hypersensitive, fear-saturated culture.

3. FOR SOME PEOPLE, because they have low self-esteem.
They don’t have a positive enough picture of themselves. Thus, everything they do is wrong and necessitates an apology.

For example, I have a friend (let’s call her Kim) who can’t seem to stop saying sorry.

Whenever she returns my calls, the FIRST words out of her mouth are always, “Sorry I didn’t get your call, I was in the shower and I…”

Sorry? You were bathing! Are you apologizing for having good hygiene?

SIMPLE RULE: don’t apologize if you didn’t do anything wrong.

Now, this doesn’t mean that apologizing is wrong.

When you mess up, fess up.

The challenge is to reprogram yourself with a more positive attitude.

Here’s a list of six keys for Sorry-Free Living:

1. Spread the message. Next time someone says sorry to you, tell her, “Don’t say sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong." By spreading this message to others, you will also spread it to yourself.

2. Record. Just for fun, count how many times you hear the word sorry in a week. Then count how many of them were unnecessary. It will shock you.

3. Validate. Now, pay closer attention every time YOU say sorry. Evaluate whether or not it was a valid apology by asking yourself two questions, “Did I really do anything wrong?” and “Was this situation out of my control?”

4. Brainstorm. Make a list of the five most common situations people say unnecessary sorries. Then write two alternative responses for each. For example, instead of saying, “Sorry this is taking so long,” substitute, “Thanks for putting up with me!” and “We’re almost done!”

5. Apologize. When you DO screw up, don’t say sorry. Say, “I apologize.” It comes off more sincere, more approachable and less self-blaming.

6. Remind. During your daily appointment with yourself, affirm, “I refuse to apologize for who I am,” “I only apologize when I’ve done something wrong,” and “I choose not to apologize when something is out of my control.”

Do you say sorry too often?

Finish the following sentence three times: “Don’t every say sorry for…”

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott's interview on 20/20!

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