10 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

It’s time to eliminate “sorry” from your repertoire. Lena Dunham touched on an all-too-familiar feeling in a recent essay Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on a topic that so many of us can relate to.

“Apologizing is a modern plague and I’d be willing to bet (though I have zero scientific research to back this up) that many women utter ‘I’m sorry’ more on a given day than ‘Thank You’ and ‘You’re Welcome’ combined,” she says.

In fact, there have been studies on this very topic, according to Psychology Today. A recent set of studies conducted by Karina Schumann and Michael Ross found that female participants apologized more in their daily lives than male participants.

“Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses. There was no gender difference in the proportion of offenses that prompted apologies. This finding suggests that men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.”

A classic example I see in the workplace is when during a discussion, someone misinterprets what’s being said. Often women will address miscommunications of this nature with “sorry, let me clarify,” when a simple “actually, let me clarify” would do. What’s up with that, ladies? Why do we feel the urge to apologize for our very existence? Let’s stop this madness and assert ourselves, please.

Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses.

Muse writer Angeline Evans chimed in on the topic on why such behavior is problematic especially in the workplace.

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment,” she says. “If you offer the same effusive apology for not bringing a notepad to a meeting as you do for missing an important deadline, you’re essentially putting the two gaffes on the same level, though they’re not even close.”

 

I like to stay solution-oriented which is why I appreciated The Everygirl’s Lyndsay Rush’s suggestions in her piece Stop Apologizing: We’re Ending the Harmful Habit who shared these steps to begin weening yourself away from apology addiction:

4 Steps for Eliminating “Sorry”

1. Spend a day keeping track of your sorries. (Or, just take mental notes over time)

2. Ask yourself what you really want to express.

3. Know when a real apology is warranted.

To this list, I’d like to add my own step…

4. Use these alternative phrases 

It’s nice to have an arsenal of word tracks to choose from to eliminate such a long-standing habit. I’m convinced you can get rid of “sorry” altogether, no matter the circumstance.

For me, I’ve found that the best everyday replacement to “sorry” is simply “thank you.” For example, when I know someone has been waiting a long time for an email response from me, instead of beginning a reply email with “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you,” I’ll start by saying “Thank you for your patience.”

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment.” –Angeline Evans

I’ve actually been working on this habit for years, due in part to my little brother’s advice who advised me long ago to simply use the phrase “I apologize” in situations that truly warrant it. These are a few of my preferred go-tos in such cases:

Below is a complete list of alternative phrases to use inclusive of those pictured in this post. I know I promised only 10 but, congrats! You get a bonus list of 10 additional ideas for alternative phrases to replace “sorry” below. Did I miss any? What tips have you used to avoid saying “sorry” when it’s unnecessary? Let me know in the comments or better yet, tweet me. For the record, I catch myself saying “sorry” constantly. It’s a work in progress.

20 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

  1. It’s unfortunate that…
  2. Unfortunately…
  3. It’s too bad that…
  4. I’d like to apologize…
  5. Excuse me…
  6. Pardon me…
  7. How sad for you…
  8. I sympathize with your frustration…
  9. What a shame that…
  10. Forgive my oversight…
  11. I regret that…
  12. This situation fills me with regret…
  13. Yes, absolutely…
  14. I must admit that…
  15. It was not my intent…
  16. Actually, no…
  17. Thank you for your patience…
  18. How sad for you that (this) happened…
  19. I am unhappy about the inconvenience you’ve been caused
  20. This situation has filled me with regret…

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