Why You Should Stop Saying “Sorry” (most of the time)

Why You Should Stop Saying “Sorry” (most of the time)


A few months ago I was walking down the street
when a guy bumped into me so hard I almost fell over. And in the middle of the collision I said,
“Oh, sorry!” A lot of us have been in situations where
we say sorry when someone can’t hear what we’re saying, when we sneeze, when we can’t
make it to a meeting. Then we apologise for apologising! I’m a serial over apologiser and when I
started to look into the science of saying sorry, it became clear how this one word can
affect everyone in some pretty unexpected ways. Some people are more likely to apologise than
others – this is because we all have different thresholds of what we consider offensive behaviour. All kinds of things can affect this threshold
– like culture (some will apologise when they haven’t been as polite as their social
norms suggest) or gender (research suggests men apologise less frequently than women). Generalisations aside, saying “sorry”
can become an automatic reaction for many of us. And it can lead to some pretty bad effects. Over apologising not only undermines your
confidence and influence, it can lower your own self-esteem. And the continual “sorrys” lessen the
impact of future apologies. You can try to kick the habit by using a different
expression like “thank you” or “okay” or just not saying anything. You might think that apologizing a lot will
prevent hurt feelings, but research suggests that apologies often have the exact opposite
effect. For example, in situations where you have
to reject someone – whether that be from lunch plans or going on a date or working
together on a group assignment – you might offer an apology as a nicety to try and make
the other person feel better. But research suggests that saying “I’m
sorry” actually makes the other person feel worse. Yep, one group of researchers in the US examined
the impact of using “sorry” in rejections through a bunch of different experiments. In a written test, when people replied to
different scenarios – writing a message that no, they couldn’t go to lunch or meet
up after a party, people included an apology around 40% of the time. These messages were given to others who were
asked to rate their feelings. And instead of the apologies making them feel
better, they reported that those responses that included apologies only increased their
hurt feelings. Next, to see if these hurt feelings led to
an increase in aggression, another test involved responding to these scenarios in person. And researchers included a measure of aggression
that’s been used in a lot of studies – how much hot sauce one person gives to another
person who doesn’t like hot sauce. So in this scenario, one participant was told
the other participant didn’t like spicy food. The other participant rejected them, and then
they had to serve them some hot sauce. When the other participant included an apology
in their rejection, they gave them more hot sauce and rated that they felt more hurt. The greater allocation of hot sauce was thought
to be an aggressive response to hurt the person apologising to them. And their final study concluded that while
those who receive an apology feel obligated to express forgiveness they don’t actually
feel more forgiveness for the person. This all shows that social niceties can backfire
and including a “sorry” in a rejection can lead to hurt feelings. Though, you should apologise when you’ve
actually done something wrong, like accidentally spilling coffee on somebody, not finishing
work on time or something way worse. In these cases, accept responsibility for
what you’ve done and have a clear and explicit verbal conversation (try to avoid texting
or email). Be direct and specific about what you are
apologising for and you’ll come across as more thoughtful and sincere. “Sorry” is a valuable word – use it
only when it’s really necessary and please, kick the habit of over apologising. You’ll thank yourself for it!

Comments

(100 Comments)

  • BrainCraft

    I hope you enjoy this new animated mini-series! I wanted to explore the psychology of everyday situations (and I over apologise A LOT, all the time). If you have a question or episode idea, please suggest it below!
    And I know this may feel a little different than my previous episodes, so thank you for your patience here 🙂 I hired an animator because I need to take a little time off my production schedule, full update in my video earlier this week: https://youtu.be/WsnAMVVjcsY

  • Mario Rafael

    Canadian problems am I right?

  • equesdeventusoccasus

    I think that someone should set up a experiment where somebody apologizes for doing something that is not considered offensive . (Perhaps a survey could be included several weeks before that asks participants to rate how offensive they found different things.)
    Give them 24 hours and then ask them to rate how offended they were by the act someone apologized to them for, which they had previously stated was not offensive.

  • axnyslie

    Not sure when "I'm sorry?" replaced "pardon me?" but it can be confusing and does go against the traditional miss manners etiquette. When someone says "I'm sorry?" I'm tempted to say "Why, did you fart?'

  • ebrwheam

    I often find it more useful to say something nice or sometimes something funny instead of sorry, but sorry not always. Being content about sorry (s) is healthy?

    BTW who's making the new great eye-catching animation, loved it.

  • Lumify | Gil

    I don't say sorry; I expect others to salt sorry when I do something wrong.

    In fact, when I sneeze, people say "Thank You", because they never witnessed a sneeze of such grandiosity! I expect people to say thank you just by standing next to me.

  • Shawn Birss

    Canadian here. Good video, ya hooser. Hope you don't mind me calling you hooser. Soory.

  • Archaeoptery X

    You're sorry? Not as sorry as I am..

  • acegeek

    What about those of us who work in call centers and are trained to say sorry for literally everything? This can spill over to our non-working life and you end up being a bag of sorrys 🙁

  • Baseit

    My go to from saying sorry, is just, "my bad!" If it doesn't make sense in the context… Don't say it.

  • Iván Kindle

    Me stepping on a foot in the public transport and recalling this video "OK, OK, OK"

  • Justin O'Brien

    Sorry, it just makes you sound Canadian. I want to go on a rant about 'actually'. seethe

  • Stephen Bly

    My hypothesis is that people don't like hearing "I'm sorry" because it can sound condescending or pitying

  • Tapirman

    Oh I hhave a friend who always said "sorry" when she sneezed. Was a piece of work to get her to stop doing that, it was actually getting annoying to everyone else

  • misterlei97

    Why does apologising to somebody make them feel worse? If the reason for this was included in the video then unfortunately I missed it. (No, I'm NOT going to apologise for that…lol)

  • Stan Ihesiulo

    I like the "thanks" at the end😂. Snap out of it, Vanessa! Stop being overly nice.

  • roucoupse

    Sometimes, when someone complains about you for something that doesn't worth a sorry, for instance something you didn't do purposely or that wasn't a mistake, sorry is the adequate response and lets off the pressure.

  • Sandcastle •

    sorry

  • Ender586

    I used to know a person, who said sorry in every other sentence. She didn't talk much, but she ended even questions with sorry. Typical answer to saying bye was "thank you and sorry". It was otherwise very kind and friendly person but this habit of saying thanks and sorry was really odd. At start I tried to answer something like: "No need to say sorry, I'm glad you came." It didn't help. I wish she'd watch this video but we're out of touch.
    Not sure what made me share this. Okay, thank you, … if you didn't find it interesting.

  • Ath Athanasius

    I was fully expecting the final word in this video to be "sorry", sorry!

  • Stephen Plur

    When you’re at a rave and bump into someone and both of you profusely apologize

  • Recabilly

    I just stopped saying "sorry" when I know that I'm not actually sorry. I only say it when I mean it and it has helped a lot. I used to feel my wife sorry a lot and I realized it made me feel like I was not equal in this relationship. I stopped saying sorry so much and things have improved a lot. I feel like she respects me more and I don't feel so stupid.

  • goblinoid

    I love this new logo.

  • A bee

    While i like the animation, i think it should only be used occasionally. I much prefer the real life visualisation. Unforgettable was the meat paste on toast shaped like a brain and then you took a bite to represent memory los. More of these strokes of brilliance please. Much more creative much more memorable!

  • Scientifically Explained

    Great

  • TYUIO11111

    Im Canadian, I cant its in my DNA

  • Ben Lamptey

    I find this problematic cos nowadays people don't know I've accepted they're apologies. Sorry does work for me if I was genuinely offended. But it's annoying when someone apologizes for something I take no offence from whatsoever.

  • emilyshmelimy

    I can't relate to this video at all. I don't say sorry that often and I don't feel worse from a rejection that has sorry in it.

  • EditioCastigata

    The music, periodically fading in and out, made it hard for me to understand the words you've been saying.

  • Arya P. Dipa

    New channel icon, eh? (・ิω・ิ)

  • rahmah mohamed

    Saying sorry is a literal part of being British!!

  • Liran Piade

    I could easily stop saying sorry, but do you suggest that I just don't react when I accidentally bump into a stranger?

    I really don't want to be rude.

  • Mitzi Hannah

    One time, I bumped into a piece of furniture then I said sorry.

  • Mitzi Hannah

    I like the new animation. but what happened to the stop motion animation?

  • cyrilio

    Sorry, not sorry, for liking your video. 😘

  • TheMacocko

    So many sorry people in the comments.

  • Neil G. Dickson

    I have mixed feelings about this. People who consistently don't apologize when they've had a negative impact on others seem arrogant and self-important, since they don't acknowledge it in even the simplest way. There's a lot of advice out there telling people in positions of power to not apologize, which exacerbates the issue. (Yes, I'm Canadian, but I feel it should be basic courtesy to acknowledge others' feelings.)

  • Resplendent Fevor

    I got annoyed by saying sorry now i say "thank you" now im working on being ungrateful

  • morenauer

    Typical Anglo-saxon attitude. Do you'd rather behave like a dick?
    Nah.
    Say sorry if you're sorry. Period.

  • cdkx

    Usually a big fan, but this felt rushed in terms of duration. I found myself wondering the reasoning behind the observed effects, and this seemed to be only addressed in passing. I think it would've been a better 10 minute video.

  • Colin Carmody

    While I certainly miss your animations, I’m happy that you are doing what is right for you!!

  • Gi vlogge

    3:37 I've got hurt feelings! I've got hurt feelings!

  • Tigerous

    Sorry you are not the father

  • Andrew Rakos

    A few years ago I saw a post about how nice people are in the PNW. Since then I've paid a bit more attention to the examples they mentioned. One thing that I always get a chuckle out of is how when passing someone in a grocery aisle who is looking at the shelf both people will apologize (me included!) I.e., "Sorry (for blocking your view of the shelf)" and "Sorry (for being in your way in the aisle.)"

  • ComradeWinston

    "Sorry" is largely empty and useless. If you want to apologize, spend those two seconds you'd be wasting to actually address whatever atrocity you committed.

  • LStein

    Can we talk about why we say "bless you" and "thank you" when some else says "bless you" after sneezing.

  • AstOnokGaming

    >the entire country of canada disliked that

  • by peacewillow

    as an empath (one who feels the emotions of others), my "sorrys" were rarely apologies for anything i had done, but more a form of sympathy for the way someone was feeling.
    in time i learned that #1 people almost ALWAYS assume "sorry" = "apology" (hence the answer "why? it's not your fault") and #2 most people aren't even aware of their own hurt feelings, which may be why "sorry" elicits anger or aggression in some.
    (btw, put ANY hot sauce on my plate and you WILL be wearing it!! 😈)

  • Beskamir

    As I've mentioned on the scishow video where this video was teased, this is a concept I've been considering over the past year or so. This ( https://www.boredpanda.com/stop-saying-sorry-say-thank-you-comic-yao-xiao/ ) really helped me realize how much better a different wording can be.
    Also now if I encounter a friend who apologies without sincerity or (more often) when they clearly cannot do anything I will likely point that out to them. Hopefully it'll make them consider why they are apologizing and let them come to the same conclusion I've come nearly a year ago. That apologizing should be reserved for where it actually matters and not be overused when it's not their fault, there's nothing they can do, or worst of all when they clearly couldn't be bothered and are just saying sorry out of habit.

  • Agent313

    this video not for me i never say sorry more like i have to force myself to say sorry when i accidentally bump into someone. though i feel like why do i have to, i mean the other guy should know it was accident not like i hit him on purpose.

  • Scott Gray

    People tell me I do this ALL THE TIME, but I was programmed to as a child, when my father would literally blame everything on me, from the weather to the outcome of a sporting event, and refused to move on until I apologized. Looking back, perhaps he thought it was a funny running gag, but he pretty much ruined what little self-esteem I had.

  • brianpso

    Damn, this happens SO often with me since I moved from Brazil to New Zealand. I have no idea why, but for some reason this became part of my instinct since moving here.

  • Charlé Ouel

    Yah I kinda dislike whene someone say Sorry whene I don't think they should (exemple whene I bump into someone and they say Sorry… am personally don't say sorry whene I bump into someone (onless they fall down or something), but useally no one fall down so I don't see the need to that…
    like we bump each other it my fault and it your fault… like it fine no one need to be sorry there things happend.
    Tho I like a good place Sorry form time to time (if it truelly how someone fell and isn't just thow for social presure)

  • dasin6

    i dont say sorry its a broken word. there is intentional and accidental incidents, if you intentionally did something then saying sorry is dumb, but if it is an accident then saying sorry is admitting fault(which then means its not an accident).

  • RedStefan

    Excuse me!

  • RoseOfTheNight4444

    I honestly don't know what other word to use when something bad happens to people, no matter the severity. It doesn't matter if it's my fault or not.

  • Robin Munro

    Speaking from Scotland i find males (myself included) are more likely to show appreciation with a thank you, rather than a 'sorry' whereas I notice females seem to say sorry when I don't see the need to. For example, stepping aside when there is not enough room for you both too pass as you get to the passing point first.

    With the 'hot sauce' example, I can see how the word 'sorry' could be taken as disingenuous, as the giver of the 'hot sauce' should of asked the recipient first before applying the sauce. With this in mind, using the word 'sorry' AFTER the event carries the hidden meaning of 'sorry, but I didn't think to respect your wishes and I really don't give a sh*t anyway!'. 😉

  • o3depleter

    So you are sorry that you say sorry to much. (Sorry).

  • Laurent Meunier

    So people are all a bunch of psychopath ? Noted !

  • Ryan Battersby

    I always carry a thumb rule of:

    If there is no way you could have affected the outcome of the situation by changing doing it another way, then there is nothing to apologize for.

    but at the same time, it has backfired quite a lot and I do tend to apologize a lot as well.

  • Scitobor 123

    sorry not sorry i dont think so

  • Thormod

    Oh, sorry. 😛

  • Laura B

    i know i'm gonna love this series!!!

  • Clau Ortiz Mateos

    As a Mexican I don't understand this video, sorry. I live in the Netherlands now and nobody gets it… But it is cultural…

  • Wtf! Am I actually right?

    Just be yourself… If you don't like how others react to it then move along or, change if you don't like that aspect of yourself.
    You will never satisfy everybody and there may even be genetic reasons for why they may clash with your personality and visa versa, it's sad that some of you instinctively thought of 'race' with this comment (though for some it is more of a factor than for most), move along imo.

    I will continue to say sorry as is, massively overused on my part and actually thought of as endearing by some. Sorry about that. 😝

  • Weicong Zhang

    Instead of saying sorry just say "Subscribe" that way by the way your back home you now have a massive follower

  • Roy Douce

    In Ireland the word sorry can and is used to start a sentence, and it's contagious.

  • ulysisxtr

    My life gets a lot better every time I watch one of your videos 🙂

  • Anatoly Novikov

    Now that's an excuse to become a douchebag! Thanks a lot!

  • Mohamed Nassar

    I feel that this video is made directly for me .. I apologise to almost everything. I'll try my best to kick this habit and use it only when necessary. Thanks 😃

  • Diana Melamet

    As a fellow over apologizer, I appreciate that you showed the other persons reaction!

  • Paulo Coelho

    Yes to say sorry in the wrong context is like accusing the other person of not being good enough and insincerely… and on the other hand if you avoid apologizing for doing the wrong things to others you will feel better with yourself and find others will act more positively well, maybe thinking before apologizing is a nice way of improving ourselves…I am sorry if my comment is already long and boring… hey… what is going on? 😜🤪🐰

  • orsettomorbido

    Just sent this to a friend, she needs it haha

  • Mihail Colun

    Sorry, but I am not sorry

  • F.B. Jeffers0n

    Thank you.

  • Nixon

    Good Tube

  • Steve T

    Depends on your culture. Maybe you barge through a crowd shouting “Outa my way!” but you’ll get past me much more quickly if you say “Excuse me!” in a moderately urgent faintly apologetic tone. We both know you’re not apologizing; just being polite and thanking me for not blocking you. If you accidentally block me in the aisle in the supermarket and don’t negligently mutter sorry, preceding or in response to the same from me, I’ll be wondering if you’re looking for a fight or a confrontation. Maybe I’ll start the confrontation. Because I’m from Ottawa and around here, muttering sorry is our way of saying lets not fight over this today and only outsiders think it has anything to do with taking responsibility for a situation. Getting real apologies at the right level is very tough to set rules of thumb for. No doubt getting it wrong can make a situation worse. But setting rules of thumb to be used all across the non-existent monoculture in which your viewers live is not helpful. Maybe suggest more close observation of others’ reactions and trying to ask local, well-regarded people what they do.

  • Marianne

    I think it's a sign of love if a man says in a beautiful way that he is sorry, or if he articulates it really well. I think that is a good thing.

  • Sofian Madi

    Sorry not sorry…

  • Vodka In Glass of Stalinium

    Oh , So you are gonna tell Canadians and Brits that they shouldn't say sorry?
    I am sorry dear, that can't happen.

  • Hamil Patel

    completely agree, i do this way too much. but this helps

  • kaalt

    I’ve walked into a lamppost and said sorry! BritishProblems!

  • Luke Fuller

    Just caught up on the last 6 BrainCraft videos I missed. Have to say, it's been a while since I've enjoyed watching YouTube for ~35 straight minutes.

  • Bratwurst mit biryani

    I say sorry instead of pardon me while on phone

  • Luke Mileto

    sorry for not watching your videos as often, still, great work

  • J Yack

    Very interesting info.

  • Drone_Video

    In Canada the use of sorry is prolific, so much so that in law, the use of sorry is not considered an admission of guilt in anyway. So, its use in Canada has nothing to do with guilt, and requires nothing from the person you have apologized to (forgiveness). Its a common understanding and I dont think anyone on Canada has the issues/concerns you described here.

  • Kowzorz

    I'm a big fan of using "Thank You" in many "sorry" situations. "Thank you for your patience" instead of "I'm sorry for the wait". That kind of thing. It reframes the situation into one of gratitude instead of ineptness.

  • Michael Bruchas

    I said this so many times at one time in my life. Took along time to change from over-apologizing.

  • Disappointed Prion

    1:27 Thanks you instead of sorry, you say?
    Thank you for letting me dislike your video

  • ARTUR CORLEONE M.D and CPA

    Can't stop saying sorry? 1 month in NYC will do

  • Michael Kwan

    I'm Canadian. I can't help it. Sorry about that.

  • Matt Ryu

    I don’t try to avoid the Canadian habit of saying sorry so that my sorry’s matter more when I do say it

  • HauntedLolita

    I've noticed that Japanese people seem to apologize a lot.

  • julia Ruva

    My question is how is this habit of saying sorry more often instilled? What do others say and do that causes people to say sorry as a habit. It seems that it is instilled early in life, so what do parents and caregivers say and do that makes kids have this habit?

  • Saurabh Singh

    I used to say the s-word when I couldn't hear something properly in a conversation. In the last few months, I've changed this habit and now I say, "what's that?"

  • SeldonLien

    Thank you. I sent this video to a friends who really got into my nerves because of this terrible habit.

  • RememberTheTrees

    Is it not a stretch to automatically consider excessive hotsauce pouring an aggressive move? But I do agree that an apology is a sacred thing and the word 'sorry' should not be spoiled through overuse and insincerity.

  • ARSENAL nine

    YouTubers be like

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