The other day, I was riding the subway, en route to work. As the train pulled up to my stop and the doors opened, I went to step off the train, but a woman, rushing to get on the train, knocked into me, bags flying.
My knee-jerk reaction was to get out of the situation with a “sorry,” and before I could stop myself, the word just blurted out. In reaction to my apology, she turned, scoffed and blamed the run-in on me.
I'm sure many of us find ourselves in these situations, almost every day. We do it at work, on the subway, on the street, with our friends, with our roommates, with our significant others. We apologize for something we didn't do, or apologize for something that didn't even warrant a “sorry” in the first place.
For many, including myself, it's become a bad habit we think will get us out of conflict or rid us of guilt. Yet every time we find ourselves walking away from the situation, there's this overwhelming feeling of resentment. Why do we do this?
It is more often the case for women than it is men. According to a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, women apologize much more than men. Basically, researchers found “women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior,” meaning, women think there's more to be “sorry” for than men.
Well, ladies (and British men) it's time to stop your “sorry-ing” and buck up. As I'm sure you over-apologizers know, saying “sorry” when it's not necessary often aggravates the problem, even causing a series of negative reactions from others depending on the situation.
For example, imagine you have a habit of blowing up at your significant other every time you get into an argument. You say hurtful things you want to take back the moment they hit the air and try to “sorry” your way out of the situation. Eventually, apologizing for your bad behavior doesn't work anymore. Your "sorries" seem disingenuous, and what you should really do is change your behavior.
Watch the video above to better understand those situations where saying “sorry” doesn't cut it and to learn about what you should do instead.