I recently read an article on Bright Site titled Stop saying ‘sorry’ if you want to say thank you: a seriously insightful cartoon, which got me thinking how many times a day I issue the words “I’m Sorry”. I tend to default to using the words “I’m Sorry” if i am in someone’s way, or if I accidentally cut in line at the Kurig or water cooler. The majority of the times when these two words are spoken or even emailed, they are not required. Often the other person would rather hear grateful words rather than an apology.
The Bright Side article illustrates this concept in the form of several cartoons originally posted by Yao Xiao. For example, instead, of saying sorry for always being late, thank the person for their patience. Instead of saying sorry I am rambling, say thank you for listening to me. These are just a couple of the scenarios illustrated. In viewing these cartoons, it made me think how silly the apology often sounded, and how much better the words of gratitude came across to the other person.
After doing some self reflection on how often I utter the words “I’m sorry”, I decided to rethink what I am meaning to say before saying these words. For example, if it takes me a little longer than expected to respond to an email…why not say “thank you for your patience” instead of “sorry for the delayed response”? When you vent to a coworker…why not say “thanks for listening to me vent, it’s been a long day” rather than “Sorry for venting…I don’t mean to be so negative”. Chances are that there is another way to say what you are trying to say, while making the other person feel appreciated rather than you apologizing for messing things up.
Of course there are scenarios in which “I’m sorry” is appropriate, so I’m not saying to avoid these words altogether. All I am suggesting is that when you begin to feel yourself utter the words “I’m Sorry” stop and think how you will come across. Maybe there is a more meaningful way you can say it by using “thank you”, which is like giving a gift of recognition, instead of asking something from them, forgiveness.