I am an extremely empathetic person, but I refuse to apologize for things that I am not sorry for. I feel like faux or forced apologies put the other person in a position where I owe him or her something, and unless I have inconvenienced, slighted, or hurt that person in some way, I don’t.
I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I think because the women’s movement has gained strength recently, you’re going to find more and more women refusing to apologize. But for me, ending your habit of saying sorry for things that are insignificant or simply not your fault is not a women’s issue. It’s a self-empowerment issue.
So, before I leave you with the impression that I am not big enough to apologize, let me be clear. I DO believe in saying sorry for those times when I clearly am to blame. Here are those moments:
- When I’m an asshole. Look, we all have our good days and our bad days. Sometimes, we act like assholes. When you do, say you’re sorry.
- When I am accidentally thoughtless. Sometimes we don’t mean to be an asshole, but we do asshole things, such as physically bumping another person, cutting someone off while driving, or saying something politically incorrect. I hate when people try to excuse inconsideration with lack of ill intention. That’s idiotic and immature. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt someone, apologize for your behavior. Intention is insignificant. Impact matters.
- When I break a commitment. That falls under the asshole category, really, and I hate when I do it. But sometimes I overbook or overextend myself. If I made a commitment to do something or be somewhere and I don’t keep that promise, well, I owe that person an apology. And, for your information, that includes being late. If you’re late to an appointment, say you’re sorry.
And, that’s pretty much it. Those are the the things I will ever feel and say I am sorry for. Anything beyond that, I just refuse to say sorry. That includes:
- Turning down an invitation. I get invited to many events and meetups. I can’t make them all. Sometimes it’s because I have work. Sometimes it’s simply because I know I’ll be too tired to make it, because my week is looking so busy as it is. Sometimes, I just don’t want to go. But I refuse to say sorry just because I can’t make it somewhere. I will, however, thank the person for inviting me. So when I turn down an invitation, here’s what I usually say, “Thank you for the invitation, but I can’t make it.” And that’s it. That’s enough.
- Turning down a man. If a guy I’m not interested in hits on me or asks me out, I’m not saying sorry for turning him down. Yes, it takes courage to put yourself in a position where you may meet rejection. I can appreciate that. But I shouldn’t have to be sorry for not being interested. I don’t owe him that.
- Turning down a favor. I get asked a lot (A LOT!) to get involved in business ideas, nonprofits, conferences, clubs, etc. As is the case with invitations, I can’t accommodate every single request. If I had unlimited time and energy, I really would get involved with all the opportunities that I’m asked to participate in. But it’s impossible. And that simply is not my fault. I am grateful that I am in high demand, so I make sure to express that in my response: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I am going to pass on this opportunity.”
Lastly, and this is a really important one, so pay attention:
If you are overcharged on your dinner check and you bring it to the server’s attention, do not begin with, “I’m sorry.” Why are you sorry? You didn’t screw up the bill. If someone cuts in front of you in line, do not apologize for confronting the offender. Don’t even say, “Excuse me.” You need no excuse. You are not doing anything wrong.
I implore you to make a change now. Stop apologizing for feeling what you feel, being who you are, failing to make everyone happy, and, especially, for speaking up for yourself. Be polite. Be civil. Be kind and respectful. But do not be sorry anymore.
Unless, of course, you act like an asshole. Then you should say, “I’m sorry.”