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.

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

Identifying What We Don’t Know How To Do Versus What We Don’t Like To Do

What’s the difference between avoiding stuff we don’t know how to do and avoiding what we don’t like to do? In most cases, there’s a very thin, fuzzy line between the two and sometimes they’re the exact same thing. Growing up, we tend to do things that come easily (or more easily) to us and avoid things that are hard. Or, we focus on what our parents teach us. As adults, those tendencies have become more ingrained and we focus on the easy(er) stuff. In my experience, we don’t like to do things that are hard for us because it can be hard to admit when you don’t know something. In adulthood, most of us don’t like to consider ourselves beginners. It can be hard for us our egos to admit when we don’t know something. If we don’t know how to do something, then we probably convince ourselves that we don’t like it. Continue reading

It’s the Little Things…Little Things To Make Small Differences in Daily Life

There are some little things that are little enough that they don’t quite merit their own post, yet could be immensely helpful to some of you out there. Each of the 5 things below have helped me in big and little ways, and I want to pay it forward. Hopefully, at least one of them can help you too! Continue reading

Adventures in…Being Put on the Spot, Karaoke Edition

Being put on the spot scares me, particularly if I’m unprepared. Whether it’s being asked questions in class, having to say a small speech in front of people, giving an impromptu presentation, or just asked questions in general, I hate being unprepared in the spotlight. When this happens, my entire body and brain shut down. I literally freeze, my eyes get kind of wide, and my brain feels like it’s running around in circles inside my head waving its little arms in terror. This is mainly why karaoke has terrified ever since I became aware that it’s a thing. As a consumate preparer, you’d think that I would have prepared for the eventual time when I would face karaoke, but I didn’t.

There are plenty of social situations that you can usually avoid if you don’t like them and it’s not big deal. That’s how I treated karaoke for most of my adult life until I couldn’t avoid it anymore. Unfortunately, we may find ourselves in a position one day when we really, really should just do it. I should know myself better and know that I need to be prepared for situations before they happen. I should have known that I needed a prepared karaoke song. But, for whatever reason, I only just came up with my go-to karaoke songs. Hopefully, you can learn from me and be more prepared than I was when I found myself in just that situation. And while I haven’t discussed this with many people, I have to believe that there are others out there like me who need preparation and become petrified at the thought of choosing a song, then voluntarily getting up there to sing it in front of people. So, for all my fellow karaoke-averse people out there, here is how I came around to believing that everyone needs a karaoke song. Continue reading