Women are conditioned from birth to lean toward empathy and kindness when interacting with others. This learned behavior is not only passed down through generations, but is also indirectly taught through movies, songs, and television. Women tend to feel uncomfortable utilizing more masculine traits, such as assertiveness, and as a result, are generally conditioned to be more apologetic about their behaviors. Women say sorry much more often than men and for unnecessary things.
Women and men tend to have very different ideas about what type of behavior requires an apology. Men tend to apologize less often than women because they display more comfort with taking a position of authority and utilizing masculine traits, and they have a higher threshold for what could be perceived as offensive to others. Multiple research studies, including a study published in Psychological Science in 2010, have examined the difference between how men and women apologize. Results showed that women reported doing wrong more often and viewed the events as being more serious and more deserving of an apology.
Although it takes mental strength and insight to be able to apologize for one’s wrongdoings, women have to focus more attention on the feelings driving the apology and whether they are experiencing excessive guilt, fear, or insecurity. Women must not undermine their own authority, and they should practice assertiveness and start using language that is more productive. Here are some tips women can use to begin making these changes:
• Increase mindfulness to help raise self-awareness around the frequency of saying “I’m sorry.”
• Have a friend or partner keep you accountable each time you say sorry.
• Try replacing sorry with new phrases of gratitude. For example, replace “I’m sorry for running late” with “Thank you for waiting for me” or “I appreciate your understanding.”
• Be firm and intentional with your vocabulary around self-expression.
Just like breaking other habits, learning to change your language around apologizing can take time and effort. Being confident and strong can help you reclaim your authority and become less apologetic for your behaviors.