Scientifically speaking, you need to stop apologizing

Upwork Client

American client requested an article on self-development and confidence with the sole purpose of empowering women

October 2017

Scientifically speaking, you need to stop apologizing

Remember One Republic’s 2007 hit “it’s too late to apologize, it’s toooo lateeeeeeee…” have you ever questioned why there’s a supposed time limit on dishing out an apology, or in fact, why we need to apologize at all? What if we skipped the awkward ‘mmms’ and ‘ahhh’s’, racking our brains, thinking of the best way to express how we feel? What if we didn’t write and rewrite that text (which, thanks to the iMessage bubble, means that they can almost feel you panicking). What if we avoided apologizing all together?

New research by Tyler Okimoto and colleagues in Australia may just be the best news since sliced bread. It suggests that refusing to apologize goes way beyond the surface. People who refuse to show remorse maintain a greater sense of control and power; feel better about themselves, and more consistent in their thoughts and actions, than those who take no action at all.

We’re not encouraging narcissistic behaviour of course, and we know that the social norm is to take responsibility and say sorry when you need to. Let’s look at this in an everyday situation. So, you’re at a conference with a Q&A session, you’ve thought of a question (a pretty damn good one too). Although questions are encouraged, you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the speaker, but the auditorium is filled with likeminded people, confidently asking question after question. You manage to muster the words in what could almost be described as a whisper, a voice that completely contradicts your usually confident self, “sorry, can I ask a question?” The speaker can either accept or refuse your apology, to answer or not answer your question, to forgive, or refuse to forgive you. You’ve placed the speaker in a position of power, and this is one of the many reasons people choose not to apologize. We don’t want to feed the psychological need for power that’s innate within us all.

Secondly, when you apologize, you’re admitting that you were in the wrong, that you didn’t mean to engage with the session, and that it completely goes against your personal views and beliefs (e.g I shouldn’t be acting out of intrigue and expanding my intellect in an environment that avidly encourages it) and you would be understanding if you were in the speaker’s position – but you probably wouldn’t be, so you look like a hypocrite, and errr… who wants to be labelled a hypocrite? Excuse you.

Ultimately, making the decision not to apologize is about independence, and staying true to yourself. The unwavering desire to be unapologetic, to stand strong within your personal views and beliefs, no matter what the situation, is the root of your personal power.






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