When You Should Not Say You’re Sorry

Interesting blog by Amy Sereday recently on mediate.com regarding apologies: sometimes, saying “I’m sorry” is not the best thing to say. Some people over-use “I’m sorry,” as if they’re apologizing for things for which they’re actually not sorry and indeed may have no control over. Her example was saying you’re sorry after receiving unfair or inaccurate criticism, to which a better response would be an expression of gratitude.

A better example of when one shouldn’t say “sorry” is when the listener has no responsibility for the speaker’s lament. If the speaker complains that she’s cold and her colleague replies that she’s “sorry,” it diminishes the effectiveness of “sorry.” What the colleague really┬ámeans is that she’s sad, or sympathetic, or some other emotion. “Sorry” doesn’t really help here.

It’s a good reminder to us that, although we may not say “sorry” when we should, we may also be using it where it’s not the most appropriate word. If you disagree with me, I’m sad, and I feel badly for you, but I’m not sorry.

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