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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Sorry not sorry: Why I’m choosing to issue fewer apologies in 2016

‘‘I’m sorry, but could you explain this report to me?”

“I’m sorry, let me move over.” 

“I’m sorry for taking up your time.” 

These are just a sample of the unnecessary apologies I’ve offered up during this winter break alone. If you’re also a woman, odds are that you’re dishing out similar lines as well.

According to a 2011 study conducted at the University of Waterloo, women apologize more often than men. Women believed an offense warranting an apology had been committed more often than men did, according to the study. 

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve apologized for “being in the way” when someone else tripped into me. I apologize all the time when I can’t do someone a favor because I have other engagements. In brainstorming meetings or in class projects, I’ve caught myself apologizing when I present a new idea or bring up a point that is contrary to what was being said before. But I rarely observe my male counterparts issuing that five-letter word in the same situations. 

I’m not saying that an apology should never be used. It’s still important to apologize when an offense has been committed, but women should try to be more selective about when they use it, and ask whether they think a man in the same position would apologize. The study found that in several cases, men wouldn’t. 

So I challenged myself for the first week of the new year to be cognizant of each time I apologized, and evaluate whether or not it was really necessary. When I was out with family and someone bumped into me, I thought carefully before deciding not to apologize. When I asked my manager a question at work, I didn’t begin my question with, “I’m sorry, but…” It was almost a surprise that neither person seem offended or put out that I didn’t apologize. 

When I did say sorry that week, I felt that it meant more and was more sincere. I was using the word carefully and applying it in situations that I felt truly warranted it. 

There are still times I apologize only to later consider the apology unwarranted. I ask myself: “If the same thing had been done to me, would I be offended to not receive an apology?” It was interesting how often the answer was no. 

Not apologizing doesn’t equate to being blatantly impolite. If you don’t want to come across as uninterested or rude, offer a smile and explain your position. Show that you’ve listened to the other ideas before presenting your own. Being courteous doesn’t require an apology.

Women have been socialized to believe that in some cases they’re at fault for even existing, for having opinions or for expressing a discomfort. Each time I thought critically about whether or not to apologize, it made me feel incredibly empowered when I didn’t, or made my apology more sincere if I did. And that’s something I’m definitely not sorry about. 

Sam King is a communication junior and news editor for The Battalion.

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