How many times a day do you use the word “sorry”? Statistics on Americans are hard to find, but the BBC reports British people say it at least eight times a day, and some say it as often as 20 times a day. And informal research supports what many people have observed: Women say “sorry” much more often than men do.
What’s wrong with saying “sorry”? Nothing, if you’ve done something that truly warrants an apology. If you text while driving, run a stop sign, and bash in someone’s fender, then by all means, feel free to say you’re sorry. In fact, research shows women and men are equally likely to apologize when they’ve actually done something to harm or inconvenience another person.
But women are likely to say “sorry” or downplay ourselves and our accomplishments in all kinds of situations when an apology isn’t really warranted, sociologist Maja Jovanovic explains during an entertaining talk at the TEDx TrinityBellwoods event in Toronto. She’s noticed women apologizing when taking the microphone at a conference, speaking up during a meeting, or when someone bumps into them in a hallway. What do you do if a coffee shop gets your order wrong, she asks? You apologize for asking them to do it over.
It’s a bad habit, and you should stop, she says. “Apologies matter. Don’t let anybody tell you differently,” she says in her TEDx talk. Sure, she acknowledges, if used appropriately, they can heal wounds and calm people down.
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