How many times a day do you say “sorry”?
If you say sorry so often that you can’t remember just how often, it might be time to rethink this habit. “Oftentimes we find ourselves reflexively apologising without really knowing why,” says Lisa Mirza Grotts, etiquette expert and founder of the Golden Rules Gal. However, this apologetic reflex may be doing you more harm than good. “Research shows that when we keep saying ‘I’m sorry’ it makes us sound weak and less respected by our peers,” she explains, adding that in some situations it may even make you take responsibility for things you shouldn’t. “Instead, try flipping the script to saying ‘thank you’ instead. It’s more positive and makes you appear stronger and in control.”
Still, some people may worry that not apologising may be impolite and that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to polite manners. Not so, Grotts says, and to help you figure out the etiquette of apologising we asked experts to share common things people apologise for that they shouldn’t.
Taking a sick day
Everyone gets sick sometimes. That’s not a failure, it’s a fact of life. Yet too many people fear using their sick days and apologise to their boss and coworkers when they finally do. Apologising for using your sick leave is totally unnecessary and can hurt you in the long run, says Dr Kim Chronister, a clinical psychologist. “You are allowed to have personal downtime as long as it’s not excessive,” she says, adding that this includes mental health days. “Just be matter of fact. No need to spill emotional details at work or make excuses. Simply take a sick day and don’t apologise for it.”
Not buying a birthday gift for a friend
Buying someone a gift for their special day is a lovely gesture but it shouldn’t be an expectation, especially if you are in a difficult financial situation, Chronister says. “If you can’t afford to buy a gift, there’s no reason to apologise,” she explains. “If they truly love and care about you they will see your presence as the gift.” But just because you aren’t buying them a gift doesn’t mean you can’t give them anything, some of the best gifts are those that don’t cost a cent.