Contributing Author: Beth D'Ovidio
Someone recently pointed out to me that I say ‘I’m sorry’ quite a bit. This caused me to listen to myself more mindfully and I quickly realized it was true. Was I really sorry in each instance that I said the words? No. I was making apologies for things not remotely in my control, starting conversations by saying “I’m sorry but…” even saying I’m sorry when someone bumped into me! So, what does it mean? Well, I consulted with my friend Google and found some answers I’d like to share with you.
I learned that studies demonstrate females do, in fact, apologize more than males. The conditioning begins when we are children. According to one expert, messages girls receive about what “good” behavior looks like get more and more complicated and confusing. It is far more straightforward for boys because society makes it so. From a young age, boys are praised and encouraged when they show direct, confident behaviors—winning a game or climbing to the highest branch.
Girls, are also told to be ambitious, smart, and successful. But for them these qualities come with conditions —
Be confident, but not conceited
Be smart, but no one likes a know-it-all
Ambition is good, but trying too hard is bad
Be assertive, but only if it doesn’t upset anyone else
Another lesson is males and females define actions for which one should be sorry differently. The bar is a good bit lower for classifying regrettable actions for females.
Here’s another key takeaway — this propensity for apologizing diminishes us. It causes others to not take what we have to say seriously. It can lead to strain in our relationships. It can even cost us career advances. So, I’m asking you to take stock of how many times you apologize when there is really no need to. I am sure you won’t be sorry that you do.
Here are some links if you want to take a deeper dive into this subject: