If You Apologize When You Shouldn’t, Try Saying “Thank You” Instead

This holiday season (heck, year round) you might find yourself apologizing for a lot of stuff. Schedules are crazy, there are so many expectations that come with the holidays, and it is hard to get it all done. If you’re like me, you want to apologize all the time because you don’t feel like you’re living up to expectations. This feeling is exacerbated because I chronically run late and am often slow in so many ways. My husband, family, and friends know that I almost always run about 15-20 minutes (something I’m working on) , and that makes me want to say I’m sorry for being late (which I am). I also tend to forget to respond to text messages from friends, so their texts might accidentally be unanswered for hours or even days. I’ll notice it when I go to text them and see that I never responded to a heartfelt text message. Again, so very tempted to apologize for being a bad friend (and sometimes I do) because I left them hanging. I’ve done this for well over a decade, which has led to so.many.apologies and so.much.guilt. And of course, it’s easy to apologize in emails: “Sorry to bother you, but…” or “Sorry this is late” or “Sorry for the inconvenience…” Then a couple of years ago, I came across a great piece of advice about a teeny tiny thing: instead of apologizing, say thank you.

Make no mistake – I still feel guilty and my procrastination is something I constantly work on (yes, there will be a future blog post about working on procrastination, but…again…I’m a procrastinator). However, I have found that saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry’ has 2 great benefits: ‘thank you’ is the positive side to sorry’s negative. First, you feel better because you’re focusing on the positive (and maybe ignoring some of the guilt). Second, the other person feels appreciated. In 9 out of 10 cases, you’ll probably end up saying, “Thank you for your patience” and then the other person will think, ‘yeah! I am a patient person!”.

As much as I wish it were true, the change did not happen overnight. In fact, saying ‘thank you’ is a constant choice. After years of practice (read: beating myself up after saying the wrong thing in so many situations), I am marginally better at pausing before I speak and this tiny margin lets me say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry’.

“Alright,” you may be thinking, “I’ve got the theory. What is the practical side of this? How do I actually work on saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’?” Glad you asked and thank you for your patience with me while I got to this. (See what I did there? I thanked you for your patience instead of apologizing for taking so long to get to the point.) Here are a few examples of when you can switch your apology with a thank you:

  • Sorry I’m running late. ⇒ Thank you for waiting on me.
  • Sorry I didn’t respond to your text message/email/phone call. ⇒ Thank you for your patience.
  • Sorry I’m so slow on this project. ⇒ Thank you for your patience while I figure this out.
  • Sorry I’m rambling. ⇒ Thank you for listening.
  • Sorry to bother you. ⇒ Thank you for your time. (Or, Excuse me.)
  • Sorry my family is so crazy. ⇒ Thank you for being so nice to my family.
  • Sorry I can’t make it tonight. ⇒ Thank you for understanding how crazy work/life is.
  • Sorry to ask you to do this.or Sorry for the inconvenience. ⇒ Thank you for your help.
  • Sorry I don’t have your Christmas present ready yet. ⇒ Thank you for being patient. It’ll be fun to give you your gift after Christmas and celebrate a little longer!

Extra tip: remove “sorry” from your emails and text messages. After you type something up, look it over and change out that ‘sorry’ for a ‘thank you’.

The next time you find yourself tempted to apologize to someone for something, try to pause and decide if you can thank them instead. And remember, it takes practice. You’ve probably been saying “I’m sorry” for a very long time and it’ll take awhile to change an ingrained habit.

Cheap Gifts: Tasty Treats for the Holidays

The holidays are coming up and you want to give gifts to your friends. The problem is, gifts can get expensive really fast! If you’re already gettings gifts for your parents, 2-3 close friends, grandparents, a couple of siblings, maybe a significant other, then your budget may already be stretched thin. What are you supposed to do for the other people you might want to give gifts to? People like neighbors, work friends, not-so-close family friends who you know you’ll see at that annual holiday party and who you also know will give you something. If you’re also new to living on your own, there’s an expectation that you’ll start giving out more gifts and, chances are, you want to meet those expectations. An easy way to do this is to give food gifts!

Last year’s baked goodies – cranberry almond biscotti dipped in chocolate with silver sprinkles (the sprinkles were left over from a cookie decorating party) and Oreo truffles dipped in chocolate (with leftover sparkle sprinkles)
Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving: Quick Advice on Surviving Difficult Relatives and Being Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday in the entire year. It is all about food, family, and gratitude. What’s not to love? There are no cards and no gifts…just eating, spending time with people you love/like, and gratitude. 

Continue reading

Practical Gift Giving Advice

Here where I live, the first snow has fallen, Thanksgiving is a week from today, and I have started planning what to give my loved ones for Christmas this year. When I first started giving out gifts back in my early 20s, my go-to gift was a gift card. Over the years though, my gift giving style has evolved into trying to give gifts of time, gifts of donations, and gifts that get used up. These types of gifts are generally well appreciated because they show thoughtfulness and they don’t have to be stored. If you are used to picking out Amazon, Starbucks, and iTunes gift cards as your standard gifts, then consider giving a little more of your time and giving a more personalized gift. Sometimes, the more personalized gifts can be just as easy as a gift card and they’ll make you look like the awesome, gift-giving, thoughtful person you are.  Continue reading

Practical Advice for Talking to People at Parties…by an Introvert for Introverts

Over the next couple of months, there’s a good chance you have some holiday functions coming up. On my end, I have at least 4 work-related functions (both my own and my husband’s), extra church events, at least 3 friends’ holiday parties, and a lot of extra family time between now and New Year’s. That is A LOT of talking to people…a lot of talking to people I don’t know or rarely see. As an introvert, all that talking to people can be challenging. Having to talk to people at parties doesn’t just happen during the holidays – there are events all year long. The holidays are just concentrated. So, what are you to do? Thankfully for all of us introverts (and maybe some extroverts), there are some tips for talking to people at parties. Continue reading