Janet Eve josselyn is an Architect, attorney,writer and the author of an irreverent novel, Thin Rich Bitche. in her recent publications she outlined why women should stop apologizing unnecessarily even when they haven’t done anything wrong.
I don’t know if it’s attributable to nature or nurture, but I’ve noticed that many women regularly apologize for things that aren’t their fault. For example, a girlfriend and I were having a political discussion at a restaurant the other day and she turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, but I disagree with you.”
There was nothing to be sorry about. She had her opinion and I had mine. A man would have simply said, “I disagree with you.” He wouldn’t have apologized for disagreeing with me nor would I want him to. You just don’t hear men apologizing when they’ve done nothing wrong. But many women do it regularly. I do it regularly.
The waitress walked by and I said, “I’m sorry, but when you have a chance, could I have another cup of coffee please? ” I could have said “Excuse me, could I please have another cup of coffee?” instead of apologizing for making the request. But the apology just rolled off my tongue very naturally. Bringing me coffee is part of the job of a waitress and although a “please” and “thank you” are in order, a customer doesn’t need to apologize for asking a waitress to do something within her job description.
Here are some common examples of needless apologies I have said or heard from women in the past few days:
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I have another question about my health insurance coverage.” Once again, the woman from customer service was being paid to answer phone calls from subscribers of the health insurance plan so why was I apologizing for calling her back to ask another question?
“I’m so sorry about your aunt.” You may be sad for your friend that her aunt died but if you didn’t kill her aunt, you needn’t apologize for her death.
“I’m sorry but I didn’t understand what you meant.” Whether it’s your boss, your spouse or your friend, if you didn’t correctly interpret what the person was trying to convey, maybe they didn’t explain it clearly. No need to assume automatically that it was your fault. You’re not a mind reader.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had a nut allergy.” If you didn’t know about your friend’s nut allergy, why are you apologizing for offering your friend a chocolate chip cookie with walnuts? You didn’t know so it’s not your fault.
“Sorry, but I can’t make it on Tuesday.” You could just say, “Tuesday doesn’t work for me. Could we pick another date?” There is no 11th commandment that requires you to always be available on Tuesdays.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. Could you repeat that?” If it’s not your fault you couldn’t hear when someone was speaking too softly, why apologize?
The list is endless. Women apologize for things that aren’t their fault quite often, and certainly far more often than men. An apology infers fault. To apologize is to express regret for something you have done that is wrong.
Admitting fault when no fault exists could be viewed as a sign of submission. The animal kingdom is replete with examples of submissive behavior and the animals exhibiting submissive behavior rarely get respect.
I think we women need to stop apologizing when we haven’t done anything wrong. Who’s with me?