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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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