Let’s stop apologizing, ladies.

by Christina on October 2, 2010

In the yoga studio, in the hospital, in the lab, in relationships…. I always seem to be apologizing for something!

I see my girlfriends doing it too. Why are we apologizing so much?! I loved reading this paper that just came out (thank you for sending, Lizzie!) that provides some evidence and explanation for this “sorry” gender imbalance.
Here is what they found:
  • Women apologize more often than men, but importantly, women report committing more offenses than men
  • Men rate offenses as less severe (and less often deserving of an apology)
  • Once men and women identified a behavior as offensive, they were equally likely to apologize (it’s just that men see fewer things as offensive) 

The bottom line: 

Women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior
I want to work on cutting down on my “Sorry’s.” 
Here’s how:
  1. Count my apologies. How many times do I actually apologize in a day? Yesterday I counted 4 before 10am… that seems like too much (especially since none of them really deserved an apology).
  2. Categorize my apologies. This will help me understand what I’m actually apologizing for all day long. Every time I say “sorry,” label it in one of these categories (as described in the article) 
    • Relational (e.g., insulting someone) 
    • Failed obligation (e.g., failing to complete chores) 
    • Inconvenience (e.g., calling a wrong number) 
    • Physical or material (e.g., bumping into someone, damaging someone’s belongings)
  3. Raise my sorry threshold. Pause before saying “sorry” – does this warrant an apology? Try to adopt more of a male mentality about this.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaivalya October 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Unless an apology is entirely unwarranted (the reflexive, meaningless variety), I don't see why this is a problem. Why must women apologise less? Perhaps men should be apologising more! Both genders could be more mindful, rendering apologies unnecessary…


Christina October 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Hey Kaivalya,

Great point — perhaps women don't need to apologize less, but rather men could learn to apologize more!

I definitely want to cut down on those reflexive and meaningless apologies though.


Arturo October 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

dear Christina
saying i'm sorry is like a balm that heals problems. while i would not advocate being walked upon, it's better to say it often, particularly in relationships with your loved ones.


Adam October 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm
John October 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Expressions of compassion may be "reasonable" mantras for stilling our minds,,, when are minds are still I believe we tend to be more compassionate, yet, expressing compassion does not necessarily indicate a stilling mind, a conundrum of living our yogic lives, no? smiling vibes…


Jenny Palmer October 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Saying sorry when you offend someone is certainly healing, but it seems that women are conditioned to say sorry all the time, as you write. Christine O'Donnell had nothing to apologize for here, as she was only hurting herself. Yet she can't stop saying sorry. It's pathetic.



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