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Drop The Sorry – What To Say Instead

Written by: Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


You’ve been there. An office colleague says a sexist joke in your presence. You are embarrassed for him. What do you? Do you ignore it and walk away? Or do you comment, “I’m sorry, that joke makes me feel uncomfortable; I don’t want to step on any toes here, but do you think you can stop?”

Most of us are conditioned to apologize when others do wrong. However, over-apologizing makes us appear passive and less confident. Further, apologizing when we don’t need to weakens the power of our apology. Making our “sorry” invalid and unmeaningful when we need to say it.

Women are known to over-apologize. This is not because men feel apologizing is weak, but rather because men have a higher threshold for what they consider to be wrongdoing or offensive behavior.

Saying sorry makes you feel like you did something wrong – if you didn’t, you don’t need to say it.

As a confidence coach who works with individuals to speak with confidence and be more impactful and influential when speaking, I can tell you when we over-say “sorry” it is no longer an expression of regret or remorse. Over apologizing is a defense mechanism that is used for peacekeeping as we feel we did something wrong. This is not helpful for our self-esteem and is a habit we need to break.

You may notice there are certain situations and people where you tend to be sorry more often. Identifying triggers helps us understand where this habit came from. Do you say sorry when you are over tired, or to avoid conflict? Or is it with certain people that remind you of your pushy sister, etc.?

For example, you may be saying sorry when it reminds you of how you were talked down to when younger or that your opinions were minimized when you shared your thoughts as a child. Habits are hard to break, and we are more likely to stop unhelpful behaviors when we know our triggers and how to replace them.

Once we know our triggers, we can work to replace sorry with other words or omit it altogether.

Here are a few examples of how you can easily replace “sorry” with thank you:

  • Replace “sorry I got upset” with “thank you for understanding”

  • Replace “sorry I’m late” with “thank you for waiting”

  • Replace “sorry I don’t know the answer” with “thank you for asking, let me look into it”

We can also replace sorry with excuse me:

  • Replace “sorry for my language” with “excuse my language”

  • Replace “sorry” (when you bump into someone) with “excuse me”

  • Replace “sorry I didn’t catch that” with “excuse me, can you repeat that”

Other times you can omit sorry altogether and simply state the facts:

  • Replace “sorry this is a long report” (presentation, etc.) with “this will take 10 minutes”

  • In the earlier example, replace “sorry that joke makes me uncomfortable” with “your sexist jokes need to stop”

You can also state what you are feeling without apologizing:

  • Replace “sorry, I’m overwhelmed right now- I can’t do this presentation” instead say “you know what I wanted to say is I have a lot going on and I need to pause a moment, thank you for understanding”

  • Replace “sorry I’m so slow (or new) at this” with “I’m a little nervous, it’s my first day”

When we say sorry, it assumes we are in the wrong and others may blame us for the situation. However, people tend to be more understanding of facts and feelings when you state them with calm confidence.

Challenge yourself for the next week to catch yourself every time you say sorry. Keep track of how many times you say it and see if you can replace it or omit it. And for extra credit (and playfulness), you can replace sorry by saying “I’m sexy” (to yourself) to break the habit positively.

Save the sorry’s for when you need them and notice how people respond differently to you.

You got this!

These are just a few of the many tips I can teach you how to speak with impact and influence. Subscribe to my FREE tips for monthly insights that will transform your life and be sure to visit my new Club at for exclusive coaching content at an affordable price.

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Dara Connolly, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dara Connolly is the author of the new book Flip Your Fear and founder of PTC™– an award-winning confidence program. Dara was the ultimate juxtaposition– a Black-Belt martial artist and a lifelong timid wallflower filled with fear! She now helps individuals speak up with confidence and be more influential and impactful when speaking in front of an audience.

Dara is a TEDx speaker and nationally recognized expert in the field of confidence. She has been featured on FOX, CW, The Connect Show, The List Show, Dr. Laura, and other media outlets. Her latest book, Flip Your Fear is available on Amazon.



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