Sometimes I focus on the strangest things. Recently I’ve been paying attention to how much I apologize. As it turns out, I apologize a lot. Multiple times a day.
This made me curious, so I did some research.
- Do women apologize more than men?
- How does apologizing make us feel?
- What am I apologizing for?
- How can I apologize more effectively?
As it turns out, contrary to popular belief, women actually don’t proportionately apologize more than men; however, the confusion may lie in what we find apology worthy. Women apologized with more frequency, mainly because they believed they created an apology-worth event.
I was astounded to find that not apologizing may be better for us than actually apologizing. Although, in my opinion, we should always apologize for things that truly hurt people or property, possibly not apologizing for minor transgressions may have benefits. According to researchers Tyler Okimoto, Michael Wenzel, and Kyli Hendrick:
“Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem.”
So what is it that I apologize for? Here’s a small list over the last few days:
- Being slightly late. (I mean, like, two minutes.)
- Eating the last slice of bread. (We don’t eat a lot of bread. This didn’t impact anyone.)
- Taking a call from my mom while I’m in the middle of a conversation with my husband (Really!? She’s 87 and lives 500 miles away. I will always take that call.)
- Calling my mom, then finding out she has company. (Seriously! She lives 500 miles away. How did I know she had company?)
I got to thinking. Would any of the men in my life feel a need to apologize for those things? Absolutely not. So yes, I apologize more because I’ve convinced myself I need to apologize.
So, if I do find a need to apologize, what does an effective apology look like??
- Expression of regret
- Explanation of what went wrong
- Acknowledgement of responsibility
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- Request for forgiveness
So, let’s pretend I’ve just broken an expensive serving dish:
“Mom, I’m so sorry, but I just broke your platter. I was washing it and my soapy hands just didn’t hold on. It’s all my fault and I am so sorry! Can we go shopping together so I can replace it? I hope you can forgive me, I will be more careful in the future.”
Or, let’s say I’m five minutes late for a lunch appointment:
“Thanks for waiting for me, I’m really looking forward to catching up.”
No significant harm done. Acknowledge the minor transgression and start the lunch date on a positive note of appreciation.
It’s up to each of us personally to decide what we need to apologize for, but maybe not apologizing is better for everyone involved. Your call.