When Should You Say Sorry If You Don't Mean It?

When Should You Say Sorry If You Don't Mean It?

There are ways to stop saying “I’m sorry” all of the time, especially when you truly don’t mean it.

By Jen Glantz
Jordyn Woods, Khloe Kardashian

There are some words that line our vocabulary that we really need to start to ghost. Words like whatever, can’t, or should, are words we utter when we really mean other things. But the number one word to add to your to-do list for 2019 of words to quit saying is the word sorry.  

People often say sorry when they don’t mean it, like when someone bumps into you or steps on your toe ... often times you just utter sorry, when really it’s their fault and you just shouldn’t say anything at all. 

Other times, people don't say sorry and the lack of those five little letters cause the other person to think there is no remorse. Take Jordyn Woods and Khloe Kardashian, for example. On a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians that dealt with the Tristan Thompson cheating scandal, Khloe expressed her frustration with Jordyn's changing story.

"That's not at all what she said on the phone to me, which is fine. Now she's downplaying it," Kardashian said. "I'm not saying things can't happen. I'm the most understanding, calm person ever. But Jordyn … never once has Jordyn said, 'I'm sorry.'"

No one but Jordyn knows if she didn't say sorry because she hadn't done anything wrong or if she truly believed she had not done anything wrong ... or if she wasn't in fact sorry at all. See how confusing that is?

Read on to find out four ways to stop saying “I’m sorry” all of the time, especially when you truly don’t mean it.

Switch Sorry for Thank You

While it might sound like a crazy turnover of words, saying thank you, instead of the word sorry, can work wonders in how you communicate with other people. 

“One simple change you can make is rather than apologizing, for example, if you’re late. Thanking the person for waiting,” says Christie Tcharkhoutian, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Life is full of inconveniences, and the less you take responsibility for inconveniences that are out of your control, the more likely you will feel positive in your interactions instead of constantly feeling like you are making mistakes, not good enough, or not living up to an expected standard.” 

Notice Who You’re Constantly Apologizing to All the Time

Write down a list of people who are on your frequent sorry list. Perhaps you’ll start to notice that there’s a certain dynamic you have with a handful of friends and family members that leave you spitting out constant apologies. 

“Do you say sorry to everyone all the time, or especially to a few people in your life? Start by noticing when you apologize the most — is it at work, with friends, or family members — and what causes you to apologize,” says Justine Haemmerli, the founder of Girls Gone Happy. “Once you notice this pattern, you can start to make some specific changes — like setting an away message when you're really busy at work, making fewer plans with that heavy friend, or talking to a trusted colleague about how to speak more confidently in meetings — as opposed to just 'no longer saying sorry,' which can be too broad and hard to put into practice.” 

Ask for Constructive Feedback Instead

Saying sorry might be a quick fix for dealing with a problem or a situation that’s a bit unusual or unfair. But another way to make sure you’re in the clear or you clearly understand what happened, or what went wrong, is to ask for feedback. 

“If you've done something wrong, apologizing incessantly can often make the other person feel uncomfortable, and doesn't really help you learn from your mistakes,” says Itamar Shatz, the author of Effectivology. “As such, instead of repeatedly saying sorry, try asking for feedback instead, by saying something such as "I clearly made a mistake here. What can I do to make sure that this won't happen again in the future?" 

Build Assertiveness Skills

Some might think that saying sorry is the passive route and not saying sorry is the aggressive route. Which is why it’s good to aim to be somewhere in-between.

“Most people don't understand what assertiveness actually is,” says Anne Brackett. a Gallup-certified Strengths coach and chief engagement officer of Strengths University. “It's not being bossy. It's not about getting your way. It's being able to advocate for yourself, your needs and beliefs, and others. It's understanding that you are in control of what you will and won't do and respect that others have that same ability.”

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