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To apologise or not to apologise is that the question?

Community Champion
Community Champion

Welcome everyone.

I call myself the queen sorry as I'm always saying sorry whether things are my fault or not .

Someone could tread on my toe and I would say sorry .A friend will be late and I'll say sorry. You get the idea.

I am often being told I say sorry way too much and that could affect my self-esteem..

It is just second nature to say sorry. I am not aware of it until someone points it out.

I thought I know people who never apologize or rarely apologize but no one ever seems to say to them that they should apologise more.

So do you think it is worse to apologise too much or too little ?

I am interested in your personal experiences.

44 Replies 44

Community Member

g'day quirkywords,

Pretty cool discussion you've opened up, thanks.

I'll start with a joke. Are you saying sorry for saying sorry too much?

I recall watching a movie about Frank Sinatra staying in an Australian hotel back in the 70's. One thing FS said, I dimly recall, was that he would never apologise. Unions got involved, Bob Hawke got involved, it's a true story, check it out - quite an amazing bit of our history.

I suppose that saying sorry is, like many actions, is an optimisation problem. Already you and I have defined the two extremes, always sorry, never being sorry. A good guess is the optimisation is somewhere in the middle hey!

If we say sorry so much that others don't even believe us, could be an issue.

If we never say sorry we may destroy relationships where apologies are required to move on.

If we say sorry at the slightest event, are we even meaning sorry/apology? Could just be like one of those phrases that people say but not feel. Like I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.

I won't say I'm sorry or apologise unless I feel it deeply AND have rationally thought it through... because when I am sorry - I hold myself to restoring the damage done that needs apologies, ie. I commit to change as a healthy act.

Upon reflection I've recollected the one place I am quick to apologise, is sport.

I play a non contact sport, so if I accidently bump an opponent, after the rally I might say sorry, but I've already thought that through so can act quick on it - like a gentleman.

Community Member
Yes I say sorry and thank you far too often. I am always saying sorry. You are definitely not alone.

Thanks go your contribution to the discussion.

I feel I say sorry to avoid conflict and just in case.

Sport is an interesting one .

I had close relative who said never apologise never explain because they felt it would be lying to falsely apologise for something that they never did and they always believed they were right!!

Community Champion
Community Champion


Do you ever say sorry to keep the peace and avoid conflict?

Thanks for your post.

One of the quite old retail industry methods for dealing with an angry customer was to open with "We are sorry."

The argument was that sometimes an apology is enough for the customer to feel satisfaction and continue being a customer.

For retail, back then in 1980's & 1990's, it was simply and openly about keeping a customer coming back into the store. We were even told we could say sorry even if we didn't feel nor believe we were actually at fault.

Just keep the customer coming back, happy.

The customer is always right was around on the 50s or even before.

I think it has always been the mantra of retail customer service.

I think if you show the customer you are listening and understand their problem by saying sorry it helps to stop them bring angry.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Quirky, a good question.

If you say sorry to someone when you know you are in the right, then it may be a fear that you are going to lose this friendship, so you say sorry, hoping for a positive response from them.

When you continually keep saying sorry, then what does it mean when you are definitely sorry, does the person believe you, probably not, so does this affect the relationship, probably yes, as honesty and trust are questioned.

Saying sorry to keep the peace and quiet are often said to keep any conflict away, but this can eventually turn against you and make you very careful of what you want to say next.

Best wishes.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi quirkywords

'Sorry' is definitely an interesting one. Can recall analysing this word some time ago when wondering why people say 'I'm sorry for your loss' when someone they know has passed. I suppose it's a matter of 'I'm sorrowful for your loss'. Should add the fact that I love to analyse the hell out of words so as to find a bit more heaven in life. Words can be so potentially depressing, hellish.

Perhaps a lot of us are conditioned into saying sorry, when we're kids, and then be led to wonder 'Why do I say sorry so much?'. It's like some poor kid gets hit by his brother and then yells at his brother before a parent steps in and and says 'Apologise to each other right now!' The kid that got hit tries to explain but is yelled at, 'You heard what I said, say sorry!' What the heck?! How is that fair? As a kid, you accidentally drop something. 'Say sorry'. You might trip over someone's foot who's got their legs stretched out, relaxing in the lounge room. 'Say sorry'. You speak over someone else because you're just so excited to get what's in your head out into the conversation. 'Apologise for being so rude!' As a kid, we can be conditioned into spending half our young life apologising. I suppose, in a way, it becomes about saying sorry for just about everything before you told to say it. Before you know it, you don't even realise you're saying it until people start to raise your consciousness.

Suddenly, people may say 'Why are you apologising?' You say 'I don't know'. 'Why do you say sorry when you don't even mean it (when it holds no meaning)? You say 'I don't know'. 'Why are you saying sorry when it wasn't even your fault?' You say 'I don't know'. I suppose it's a matter of if you go back far enough, to when you were a kid, you'll know.

When my parents were together, my father used to say sorry for just about everything, even to the point where it didn't make sense. It used to drive my mum nuts. When she'd ask him why he's said it, he'd typically say 'I don't know' followed with 'Sorry'. This is where I wish to thank you quirky, for raising my consciousness. I'd never considered before the reasons as to why my dad did and still does this. His mother was known to be a somewhat heartless woman and a cold disciplinarian. His dad was the sensitive parent but died when my father was young. His constant apologising now leads me to feel even greater sorrow for the kid in him.