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Overapologizing: What is It and How To Stop It?

Overapologizing: What is It and How To Stop It?

We all know someone who unnecessarily says “I’m sorry” multiple times a day. They tend to apologize for something that is not a considerable mistake, mistakes they did not commit, or even things that are out of their control. If you know of that certain someone who constantly says “sorry,” you might want to inform them about overapologizing.

What is overapologizing, and what are its effects?

Overapologizing is the tendency for someone to literally over-apologize for every little thing that goes wrong, even when an apology is unnecessary. There are various reasons why an individual feels the need to say sorry, and it is important to dive into every single one.

It stems from people-pleasing behavior

Sometimes, we equate the words “Sorry” or “I apologize” to a kind and polite manner of speaking to others. However, using such words multiple times may only make one seem like they have low self-esteem or that they think poorly of themselves.

Photo from [SHVETS production]

One may be in an unfamiliar environment

Uncertainty makes us more cautious and uncomfortable. And for some, apologizing feels like a “safer” option. But, much like when people-pleasing, apologizing during awkward situations will only make one appear to have low self-esteem or that they are afraid to take space in a new environment.

Photo from [Yan Krukov]

One puts too much pressure on themselves

We put too much pressure on our own selves and apologize when we feel “not enough.” However, saying sorry every time one underperforms can lead to becoming less confident in one’s abilities and eventually losing trust in oneself.


One becomes responsible for other people’s mistakes

We are all part of a unit, and sometimes we can get too absorbed in it. So much so that we sometimes take responsibility for others’ actions, including their mistakes, and apologize when they make one. However, doing this frequently will ruin one’s personal and professional boundaries, for people can see that one will own up to anything.

Photo from [fauxels]

How to stop overapologizing

It is now established that overapologizing is not that much of a good habit. Well, it is never too late to break a bad habit, right? But can we even stop overapologizing? How will it even work?

Photo from [Brett Jordan]


To stop overapologizing, one must first recognize that they are doing it and when they are doing it. Identify personas and situations involved where one frequently overapologize. “Why does this make me overapologize?” is the first question one should ask.

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Determine whether a situation calls for an apology or not. Uncontrollable happenings, minor mishaps, and other persons’ mistakes usually do not warrant an apology. “Do I really need to apologize?” is a great question to challenge the idea of apologizing before giving it.

Flip the Script

In encounters that do not need an apology but still need politeness, one can always choose to flip the script.

“I’m sorry. Can you help me with this?” to “Do you have a moment to help me?”
“I’m sorry to disagree” to “I would like to express a different take.”
“I’m sorry for not noticing” to “Thank you for pointing that out.”

Much like everything in life, too much of something is not good, and that does not exclude apologizing. Remember that apologies hold great power when it comes to our relationship, and frequently using it dilutes the influence it has, making them meaningless. So, choose where your apologies will go and make them count.

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