I said “sorry” 37 times last week.
Seriously. I counted.
Twice to the Uber driver for being across the street from my official pinned location.
Once to the waiter for sending back my completely raw burger when I ordered it medium-well.
Once to the man who bumped into me while in line to order food.
Once to the woman trying to get a ball from her dog underneath the bench I was sitting on at the dog park.
Once to the man kindly holding the elevator for me.
Once to my boss for not working on what I wasn’t supposed to be working on.
Once to my mom because I made the same bad pun twice.
Once to my coworker because I needed her to remove her headphones to clarify on a project we were working on together.
Once to my hair stylist because the hair dryer cord wrapped around my foot.
And because the pictures I brought in as inspiration for my new hair color weren’t the greatest.
Three times to various people in the elevator because my happy dog was sniffing them.
Once to understand a coworker’s project more clearly.
Once to someone in the company kitchen because I needed them to move aside so I could make my morning coffee.
Twice to a recruiter on the phone because I wasn’t interested in the role they wanted me for.
Once to my coworker because I didn’t hear what he had said and needed him to repeat himself.
Once to my coworker upon him telling me about a personal tragedy that happened years ago.
Twice at a meeting because I talked about statistics that were sent out to the company, but were incorrect.
Once to the manager of the marketing meeting after he came up to apologize to me about the backlash of said statistics.
Once to the concierge of my building for receiving a heavy package.
Once to my friend for not responding to her Facebook messages because I was in a 2 hour meeting.
Once to my friend because my phone was broken and that I wouldn’t be able to receive a call from him.
Once to my boyfriend for not taking the trash out.
And for not unlocking the car door in time for him to try and open it.
And for beating him in a computer game.
And because he told me he had a difficult day at work.
And for asking him to take the dog out.
And for being in the way when he wanted to use the bathroom.
And for being frustrated about getting a parking ticket.
And for going to sleep at midnight and not staying up later to play games. And because I was tired after a long day.
And that my laundry was making noise.
And because I closed a tab accidentally that we were looking at.
Why do I feel the need to apologize for everything? A lot of the times that I said sorry, I could have plainly said “excuse me” or “pardon.” I’m apologizing for things that aren’t my fault, and my go-to empathetic response is “I’m sorry,” instead of just acknowledgment or compassion.
Do I need to preface every conversation with every coworker, boss, or executive with the word sorry? “Sorry, I just wanted to ask if…” and “Sorry, could you repeat that?” and “Sorry to bother you, but I wanted to know if you would prefer this or that.” No. It’s a defensive crutch that is unnecessary — I don’t need to apologize to do my job.
In 37 fell swoops, not only did I lessen the power of my true, meaningful apology, but I sounded less confident and less competent. The more I became aware of it, the more annoying it got.
It should mean more. It does mean more.
But seriously though, sorry this was such a long read.