Should Women Stop Apologizing So Much?

~Jennifer - posted on 10/28/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )




"I'm sorry." Two little words that have come to mean . . . almost nothing.

It was a good week for demonstrating just how vapid the apology has become. First, Ginni Thomas called Anita Hill and left a voice mail asking her to apologize for saying that Ginni's husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sexually harassed her nearly two decades ago. Then the Wall Street Journal wrote about the cultural significance of the apology: We apologize more to strangers than we do to loved ones or family, according to new research from the University of Waterloo (in Ontario).

To make matters worse, the Canadian research team has put into words what most of us probably suspected: Women apologize more than men do. It's official. We are so sorry!

I've been doing some research of my own. This week, I walked around mentally tabulating my apologies.

1. Bumped into someone on the Metro: Whoops, sorry!

2. My mentor called me and asked how I was doing. I said I was sorry for taking up your time, but I have a few more questions.

3. Forgot to buy paper towels: Sorry, roomies. Will do it tomorrow.

4. Got cut off while chatting online: Sorry, my Internet died.

5. A friend is sick: Sorry to hear you aren't feeling well.

Turns out, I apologize a lot. I say I'm sorry for things I have no control over, like the delinquency of my Internet service provider. I express contrition for accidentally bumping into people -- as though it is a grave fault for which I deserve punishment.

The average person asks for forgiveness four times a week. I do it about five times per day, mainly because I am one of those super-polite types, forever trying to smooth things over with my extreme graciousness (in Paris, I once apologized to a dog I hit with a Frisbee -- in French). Saying "I'm sorry to hear you aren't feeling well" seems like a textbook expression of sympathy. But apologizing for asking questions? I began to wonder whether all of this apologizing made me seem weak.

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Caitlin - posted on 10/28/2010




I appreciate when someone says sorry because they bump into me, if they don't I think they are rude. If someone shows up late, I expect an apology, if a call drops, I don't know why we apologize, but we do, maybe so that the other person doesn't think we hung up on them. I always thought it was the polite thing to do, I don't think it shows weakness, I think it shows manners. My husband apologizes just as much as I do (to me at least).. ;)

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 10/28/2010




For some its in them to do so…and others not so much…
I cant say that they should stop…..

[deleted account]

"People with less power have to apologize more. A boss who walks in late to a company meeting need not apologize for his or her actions, but an employee tardy for the same meeting will most likely have to express contrition."

See, I think the boss SHOULD have apologized. Is that wrong?

[deleted account]

I'm constantly apologizing and my FIL always says, "STOP SAYING SORRY" but to me, it's just being polite. I'm WAY out of control though.

I do think that when someone says sorry too often, it loses it's meaning and they seem extremely insecure. A lot of the time when I'm apologizing, I'm doing it without even realizing it and I AM in an uncomfortable situation. I suppose it's a nervous thing?!

Interesting, Jenn

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