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9 Surprising Things You Lose When You Say Sorry

9 Surprising Things You Lose When You Say Sorry

Hundreds and thousands of years into perfecting communication to better express ourselves, and we are still far from mastering it. Saying something and meaning it often stand miles apart from each other. Why? Well, that has something to do with our evolving social structure, convincing us to use words out of context that were clearly designed to serve other purposes. Or maybe this change is psychological as Psychologist Andrew Howell at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton explains.

For example, the word ‘sorry’ should be hard for anyone to use in a conversation. It was supposed to make you humble, somewhat vulnerable, and not at all a fun experience. But, even such a strong word is now being used as an icebreaker. ‘Sorry, are you Nathanial?’ ‘Sorry, but it is my leg you are stepping on!’, ‘Sorry, but you are being incredibly rude.’ Sounds familiar?

If you look at these instances, you will see that using the word ‘sorry’ in some cases is downright ludicrous. Are we blind to this? Of course not! But, we keep disregarding the original value of the word sorry and keep using it because we think maybe it makes us more acceptable to the world.

But, what we do not realize is each needless ‘sorry’ robs us of our inherent nature. And believe it or not that involves losing good bits of our character that make us a unique human being. What are we losing by saying sorry too many times? Surprisingly, a lot.

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1. Confidence

Say, you are planning a presentation for your office. And, although you have given your 100 percent to it, you feel it is not enough. That is understandable because our inherent nature pushes us to do better than the last time. But, if you start the presentation with an apology, you will lose your confidence and fail to navigate the presentation as you have planned thus losing clients, and maybe your job, in the process. Making mistakes doesn’t have to be this costly for you, only if you keep a lid on the frequent use of the word sorry.

2. Insurance

At the scene of a car accident, approaching the authorities or possible witnesses with a ‘sorry’ can take that big fat insurance payout away from your table. Even if you think you are at fault in the accident, you need to understand that there are multiple variables at work here, that decide the reason behind the accident and who is at fault.

So, if you are not a professional, it is best to leave that can of worms to the experts. And if you know you are not at fault, saying ‘sorry’ might make you look like you are at fault, canceling further investigation and leaving you to pay for damages, on top of your own medical bills, of course.

3. Credibility

Saying sorry too often and to every one might make you lose your credibility. With a habit like that, you will surely be taking a lot of heat from the office and society. A true apology can be relieving. But, needless use of this word as your favorite conversation starter can put you in a bind. People will expect more from you thinking you are to blame for everything, and that is not something you want to live with.

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4. Respect

As the word sorry implies submission, needlessly using it would eat away at your self-respect and distort how others see you. Say, you are standing in a queue and there comes a (not so gentle) man taking the spot in front of you. His excuse, he is on a tight schedule. Now the right thing to do would be to tell him to go at the end of the line like he is supposed to. But, starting your conversation with a sorry will defeat the whole purpose and cost you your respect.

And not to mention it won’t make you the guy who stands up for his right (spot in this case), but the guy who uses apology to request his spot in the world (queue). If you never saw it that way, it is better that you start now, to protect how people see you.

5. Value/Self Esteem

Although we now use the word ‘sorry’ very often, we do know what it stands for. So, misusing it can taint your consciousness with guilt of losing value by apologizing for nothing at all! For example, two drunks bump and spill drinks on you in a party. It is clearly their fault, but you saying sorry, just makes things confusing. You surely didn’t mean to apologize! You just used sorry as everyone else does. But, the people in the party laugh at you, which can hurt your self esteem.

6. Companionship

Your overuse of the word ‘sorry’ might make your relationships overly complex. They say, communication is the key to a successful relationship. But, when you are accustomed to using strong words (like sorry) without meaning them, what else can you expect other than arguments? For example, you might use sorry as the means to avoid discussion, and in an attempt to bury certain issues. But that’s not the way to handle things. Burying issues and not resolving them might only breed more problems. And we all know how that ends.

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7. Identity

Yes, you can lose your identity a bit every time you utter the word ‘sorry’ unnecessarily. How? Well, what makes you unique is your thoughts and viewpoints. But, using the word sorry unnecessarily may take away your confidence. And, with your confidence gone, you won’t find the required push to run with your own fascinating ideas, but favor others’ viewpoints. That is potentially character assassination, and can eat away your individuality piece by piece.

8. Appeal

Your charm and personality trait that attracts others hinges on how you express yourself. Adding sorry in your conversation kills the magic and makes you look unsure. Want a more vivid image of that? Well, let us say, you are in a bar and you find someone interesting. You walk up to that person and ask, ‘Sorry can I buy you a drink?’

The person you are addressing will simply think that you either lost a bet and have to buy a drink for him or her or you are apologizing because you do not believe you are worth even a second of the person’s time. Just adding one sorry could really end your conversation, or worse, make the other person ask you why you are apologizing. Either way it ends with you embarrassed and alone.

9. Impression

The first impression is the last impression! We literally get vibes from people  the first time we meet them. It helps us decide whether we will be friends or not. Since we are big on social structure, making friends is something we consider important. However, saying sorry too many times can seriously damage that legendary first impression. When you are meeting with someone and start by saying sorry, the person in front of you tries to look for flaws in your sleeves that you are asking him or her to look past. And that is not very helpful.

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Yes! It is serious, but not that you have to go to a rehab to get back what you have lost. All you need is confidence and control over using strong words (like sorry) in conversations. Just a day or two into this process, and you will start to feel empowered, more confident, and a bit aggressive (in a healthy way). Why not take the first step towards making a clear point every time you speak and avoid putting sorry where it doesn’t belong?

Featured photo credit: http://www.careergasm.com/ via careergasm.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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