Last week I was in an elevator, and as I exited into the lobby, a man was waiting just at the door to enter the elevator car. He was distracted and entered the car before I could exit. He inadvertently broke traditional elevator protocol, but before he could say “excuse me” I opened my mouth and without thinking uttered the word “sorry”.
It was such a quick exchange, but as I went on my way, I realized that this was not a one time occurrence. I had formed a bad habit of apologizing multiple times a day for things that were not apology worthy.
Some would say there’s no harm in over-apologizing, but I feel differently. I think the more I apologize for the inconsequential things that don’t require an apology the more I’m discounting the value of the word ‘sorry’ when I actually need to invoke it.
Apologies should be reserved for when they are needed and I will try to put more thought into when I say I’m sorry in the future. I don’t need to say I’m sorry when I can’t accept an invitation to an event because I already have plans. I don’t have to say I’m sorry if I get something wrong at work. I don’t have to say I’m sorry if it takes me an hour longer than I would like to return an e-mail. Life is too short to spend it apologizing.