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Oh, Amy Schumer! You get it. You so, so, so get it. Now I had seen her most viral bits The Last f**kable Day and Milk Milk Lemonade and the stupendous 12 Angry Men parody, but the other day my husband and I were catching up on "Inside Amy Schumer" and there was an epic apology skit that hit the proverbial nail on the head and then apologized for it for no good reason.
I cannot believe the amount of times I apologize for things I definitely should not be saying sorry for. Just today I told my friend that I was brunching with "Sorry, I have to go pee." Why the hell was I apologizing? I'm 33 weeks pregnant. And then while I was waiting for the bathroom when the woman came out she said, "Sorry" to me and I thought, why is she saying sorry? Did she drop some mammoth deuce in there and not flush? She did not, she was just doing what women are doing a thousand times a day, apologizing for absolutely nothing.
My 6-year-old niece has taken up the habit of saying sorry before she asks a question and my brother wanted to nip it in the bud. He told her, sorry is for when someone gets hurt, when it's an accident, not for raising your hand at school. Last year Pantene had a commercial that called women out for saying sorry, and, sorry, while it wasn't as awesome as Amy Schumer's, it did bring the conversation up about about women apologizing excessively, and for a while articles popped up about it, but sorry, I haven't noticed a change.
Sorry, but women apologize significantly more than men, there are even studies about it but sorry, I don't think we need a scientific study for this one—just listen to yourself one day and count how many times you say "sorry." Yesterday after brunch I went to yoga and proceeded to say, sorry three times—once for having to pee, once for getting lightheaded, and once for saying sorry so much. I mean really, that was just in one hour! I then went to work at the library and apologized profusely for asking the supervisor to switch my 15 minute break to later in my shift because I was working six hours and didn't want my break after only two hours. Then I apologized to a customer because the copy machine and printer don't take credit cards and they would have to pay at the circulation desk by card—how is that even remotely my fault?
Some people might argue that when we say sorry we mean excuse me, Canadian style, but I don't believe that is the case simply from observing my own behavior. I feel bad when I say sorry about whatever I'm about to do or request next, "Sorry, but I don't want onions on my salad." The salad that I'm paying for. I'm an over-apologizing woman and chances are you are too. It makes us appear weak, ineffectual and lacking in confidence, particularly in the workplace as shown in Schumer's skit and the Pantene commercial. And as Schumer is pointing out, it's pretty ridiculous. So how can we stop?
Start paying attention to when you say "sorry." Try to notice the feelings you are having in the moment, identify the reason behind the sorry.
If you feel a "sorry "coming on, try and count to three before you say it. See if the situation actually necessitates saying the word.
Think of another non-apologetic phrase you can use in the workplace, instead of "Sorry, this might sound crazy but..." try "Hey, here's my idea." Or instead of "Sorry to bother you but..." try "Hey can you help me with this?"
Sometimes "sorry" is appropriate, like when you really screw up or hurt someone's feelings or cause an accident or step on someone's foot. But if you are over-apologizing it takes the meaning and significance out of apologizing when it is appropriate.