I’m Sorry, But Stop Apologizing

or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Say What I Mean

Sorry by Alexas Photos is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal

I admit it, I say I’m sorry when I probably shouldn’t. We all probably do it a little.

Gratuitous over-apologizing is a chronic problem that many of us have. It is one part anxiety and one part politeness. We do it if we are unsure that it is our turn, that we may be wrong, that someone won’t like what we say, or any other number of reasons.

“I’m sorry to bring it up, but …”

“So sorry for the feedback, but I think …”

“Sorry to bug you …”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but I feel …”

All of those words can be deleted or left unsaid. If you think before you speak, or read what you type before you click send, you should be able to say what you want to say with no apologies.

In nearly all situations saying sorry is not necessary. It reduces the clarity and meaning of what you are trying to say. The reader or listener is left to sort out what you are asking for and really want.

Saying sorry frequently raises flags that we then need to address before we can get on with the discussion. There isn’t room for that in the business of creating software. Clarity is key to keeping everything on track.

Remember these three simple things and hopefully they will help you on your journey.

  1. You should not be sorry for having an opinion.
  2. You should not be sorry for asking a question.
  3. You should not be sorry for the way you feel.

Next time I will have to deal with the “um” problem…

Photo of Victor Sirotek

Victor is both a manager of expectations and a designer of experiences for Collective Idea. He’s enjoyed leading projects, designing apps, and creating thoughtful experiences since 2002.