Do You Apologize Too Much?

In principle, saying sorry is one of the social glues that strengthens relationships. However, apologizing too much is negative. Read more here!
Do You Apologize Too Much?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Do you apologize too much? In principle, saying sorry is one of the social glues that strengthens relationships. However, apologizing too much is negative. Remember that the act of apologizing should be significant. This means it shouldn’t be a continuous and obsessive exercise, as this shows a lack of confidence.

“Sorry to bother you, but can I ask you a question?” “Sorry, but can you leave that pen over there?” “Sorry, but I think…” We could give you a thousand examples of daily situations where the word ‘sorry’ just rolls off the tip of the tongue.

Although saying sorry shows politeness or manners, doing it too often is negative.

Jean de la Bruyère said that there is only one permissible excess in our world: showing genuine gratitude. However, saying thank you isn’t the same as being truly grateful.

Forgiveness is similar. You can say ‘sorry’ twenty times a day or more. However, it’s always better to say it only when it’s truly necessary. Let’s take a closer look.

Do you apologize too much?

Do You Apologize Too Much?

When you say you’re sorry, it’s because someone must forgive you for something. Sooner or later, the people around you will get tired of hearing you say it. Or even worse, they’ll think that you don’t have enough confidence to act autonomously. Therefore, as it happens in any other areas of life, you should avoid extremes.

An example of extremes is Donald Trump. One of his key characteristics is that he never apologizes because, according to him, he ‘never makes mistakes’. Another example of this extreme is Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of Volkswagen. Despite the evidence of the fraud Volkswagen committed on diesel car emissions tests, it took him almost a year to apologize publicly. When he finally did apologize, a large part of customer’s confidence had already been broken.

On the other side of the spectrum are those people who use and abuse apologies. Sometimes they do it out of politeness or good manners , while others simply out of insecurity. In all cases, they’re not aware of the implications of doing this.

Here are some of them.

It Devalues the Purpose of Forgiveness

Forgiving and asking for forgiveness are two highly therapeutic exercises. They resolve conflicts, unload burdens, and relieve tensions. Few acts imply greater responsibility than admitting being at fault for an offense and asking the other party for forgiveness. Now, if you spend all day asking for forgiveness for insignificant things, forgiveness loses its meaning and relevance.

You Devalue Yourself

Do you apologize too much? If you do, take a moment to reflect on the next idea. How do you think others see you every time you apologize for something unimportant? Some situations don’t require apologies. There are few real circumstances in which you need to ask for forgiveness.

You must understand that saying you’re sorry doesn’t necessarily show you’re humble, polite, or respectful. Don’t apologize for asking questions, for passing through, for sitting down, for dropping a pencil, for asking for help, or for breathing. Doing so will boost your self-esteem and confidence.

A woman worried about her work anxiety.

Asking for Forgiveness As a Way to Get Out of Certain Situations

Most of us do it: apologize as if it were a ‘get out of jail free’ card to avoid certain situations. There are moments in which, for some reason, your insecurity or shyness comes to the surface. Think about it. It’s common for people to say sorry whenever they address a stranger. For example, “Sorry, can I ask you a question?” or “Excuse me, could you pass me that key I dropped?”

When to Apologize and When Not To

If you apologize too much, you should learn when it’s appropriate to do so and when it isn’t. Working on this will make you feel more competent and confident in any situation and scenario.

When to Ask for Forgiveness

  • Apologize when you’ve harmed someone.
  • Do it when you’ve offended, disappointed, or hurt a person’s feelings.
  • Ask for forgiveness when you regret your behavior.
  • Be capable of asking for forgiveness every time you make a mistake and your mistake affects others.
  • Apologize to end disputes and leave behind old grudges.
  • Learn to be able to ask yourself for forgivenessAll of us make mistakes or make inappropriate choices.

When Not to Apologize

  • Don’t apologize when you’re giving your opinion.
  • Avoid saying you’re sorry in situations when it’s meaningless. For example, whenever you’re addressing someone, want to ask a question, or need to take something.
  • Avoid asking for forgiveness whenever you need help.

Do you apologize too much? Although there are times when saying sorry is necessary, sometimes you don’t need to.

A person holding a blue paper bird.

To conclude, although you’ve probably heard that only strong people say sorry, you must set limits. Saying sorry too much blurs the line between the real and powerful meaning of forgiveness and can affect your self-esteem.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.