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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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