Do you remember or know the story of Goldilocks? When she invaded the home of the three bears, everything she tried was too much, then too little, and finally just right. Well, that’s how I see apologizing – some people apologize too much, some too little, and others just the right amount. Heck, Beyoncé even has a song titled, “Sorry,” so this is obviously an important topic, right?
Before we jump into this topic any further though, let’s look at why it is important. The ability to apologize – truly apologize when it is appropriate, demonstrates authenticity, compassion, and good character. That’s the “just right” part of the Goldilocks principle. It demonstrates one has high emotional intelligence and personal power. Let’s look at the other options in more detail, starting with not apologizing enough. There are some individuals that refuse to apologize, even when it is called for. Regardless of their intention for doing so, let’s be honest – they come off as assholes.
Now on to the other side of the continuum – those that apologize too much – I’ve seen two subsets of this one: individuals that mean it and those that don’t. For those individuals that apologize too much and don’t mean it – you are not fooling anyone. People have good radars for sincerity and if you’re apologizing a lot and not meaning it, I can guarantee your coming off as inauthentic and therefore untrustworthy.
On to the final category – those that apologize a lot and mean it. We could get into all kinds of reasons why people do this: culture, upbringing, spending too much time with a verbally or physically abusive person, low self-worth, or low self-confidence. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons why. Let’s focus on the impact over-apologizing has – in my experiences, the impact it has on me is disheartening – I feel bad for the other person, wishing that they had higher self-confidence and aren’t so hard on themselves.
Remember, we are not judged by our intentions, but our behaviors. How are you showing up to others? How often you apologize is a great way to gauge how you show up. Apologize too much and you can come across as either untrustworthy or low in self-confidence. Apologize too little and you can come across as a self-absorbed asshole. Apologize just right and you can show up as authentic, compassionate, and with good character.
How are you showing up through your apologies?