Why Women Need to Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

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walking towards someone and you both step to the same side to try to get out of each other’s way: “oops, i’m sorry!”

squeezing past someone on the airplane as you try to make your way to bathroom: “sorry.”

sending your food back at a restaurant because they got the order wrong: “i’m so sorry to do this but…”

speaking at the same time as someone in a meeting: “oops, i’m sorry, you go ahead!”

you are trying to make your way through a crowded room: “sorry, just trying to get through, i’m so sorry, ack – sorry!”

do the above scenarios sound familiar? i have done all of them at some point in my own life. we, especially as women, apologize when we don’t need to. none of the above examples require an apology.

saying the words “i’m sorry” should happen when you have done something wrong which has hurt someone. it is used to acknowledge an offense or failure.

Why women need to stop saying i'm sorry

we should not be apologizing when someone else gets our order wrong. we should not be apologizing for taking up space. we should not be apologizing for existing.

i distinctly remember talking to a friend (hi lisa!) a few years back and she said one of the most influential things that a woman in her life told her was to stop saying “i’m sorry” when you trying to get through a crowd and instead say “excuse me.”

i have started implementing the “excuse me” statement instead of “i’m sorry.” before this was brought to my attention, i did not realize how often i gave an apology for merely navigating the world. doing this has also allowed me to be more observant as to how often people, especially women, apologize when it’s unnecessary.

our words carry immense value with them so i encourage you to look at how often you are saying “i’m sorry” and if it is an appropriate use. we don’t need to be apologizing for navigating the world and side-stepping someone unless you crash into them. also by incorrectly using “i’m sorry” we are devaluing the powerful words for when we do need to actually apologize to someone.

just the other day, my husband and i were waiting for the elevator in our apartment building. another woman got on and pressed the third floor button – a few floors below ours. when we approached the third floor and as she was waiting for the elevator doors to open, she half looked at us and said “sorry” before she exited.

she basically apologized for living a few floors below us and making us “wait” (like 5 seconds) while she made her way home. WHAT! it all happened too quickly to do anything other than have a weird look on my face but if this happens again, i plan to say in a friendly tone “no need to apologize for living on the third floor!”

like i mentioned, i am guilty of this too but ladies we have to stop apologizing for taking up space or time or really anything that does not cause harm/offense to someone. this is why women need to stop saying “i’m sorry” and transition to “excuse me” or something more accurate. i encourage you to start paying more attention to how you personally interact with these words. let’s hold one another accountable because we do not need to be sorry for interacting with the world, unless of course you step on someone’s foot while doing so, then say you are sorry.

have you noticed this in your own life or have witnessed similar situations?


  1. Lindsay

    September 14, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I was hardcore nodding “YASSSSS GIRL” the entire time I read this post. It reminded me of some things I read in Amy Poehler’s book, which also made me nod enthusiastically and say “YASSSSSS GIRL.” I’ve been making a concerted effort recently to eschew this phrase from my vocabulary unless I have actually offended someone. Sorry not sorry.

    Lindsay recently posted…Take 10 Tuesday

    • chelsea

      September 14, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      haha there were so many places i wanted to put “sorry not sorry” but then i kept deleting it. should have kept it! thanks for your comment lindsay and glad you are getting this out of your vocab because ya know what…we aren’t sorry!!!! (unless we really do something to be sorry for).

      ps. love me some amy

  2. Elyse

    September 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I’ve been trying to get this out of my vocabulary but as a woman and a Canadian it’s a losing battle. I have made some strides thanks to having to navigate a large city there’s no time for apologizing, but I still say it WAY too often. Thanks for the reminder!
    Elyse recently posted…Vist To Summersong Farm

    • Paula Howley

      September 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Elyse, don’t confuse good ol’ Canadian politeness with an inferiority complex. We Canadians kick ass. Now go forth and kick some of it! Unapologetically!
      Paula Howley recently posted…Official Skank

    • chelsea

      September 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      glad you are making strides elyse- that’s what we can ask of ourselves (because i’m totally guilty of it too!)

  3. Paula Howley

    September 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I think because I was almost born in America and because I grew up on the border, I don’t have this problem as much as other Canadians.

    I’ve always been a pushy broad- literally. I remember this one time I went down to Florida for Spring Training the year after the Blue Jays won the world Series and I wanted to get my baseball card signed. Everyone was crowded in a circle around Roberto Alomar about 15 people deep- no word of a lie- and I literally pushed my way to the front. “Excuse me, excuse me. Thanks! Thanks!” and made it right to the front and got my card signed. I wasn’t rude about it, just deliberate. I still have it. (Too bad he turned out to be a dick, thus devaluing himself, humanity AND my card.)

    I’ve also never been one of those people afraid to send my food back (although my ex husband was a chef and he told me horrifying stories of what annoying customers get back on their plates sometimes).

    I think this is an excellent observation and women DO do this. Let’s quit this shit like NOW.

    Good one Chels.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Official Skank

    • chelsea

      September 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      “wasn’t rude just deliberate” well said paula and hell yes you got that card signed, even if he turned out to be a dick…you got what you were after!

      i must admit that i am one of those people that haaates sending my food back and it makes me horribly uncomfortable but there’s no reason for ME to apologize for them getting it wrong! agreed and quitting this shit now and so happy you linked to your new blog! thanks for your thoughts and sharing your story paula!

  4. Hana Bilqisthi

    September 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you Chelsea for sharing. I thought I am the only one. In my peer group, I am the only one who constantly saying I am sorry. I feel something wrong with me . Thanks for the advice, I hope it can works for me 🙂
    Hana Bilqisthi recently posted…Kenapa Bukan Buku?

    • chelsea

      September 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

      thanks for your comment hana, and you are certainly not alone! i think it’s appropriate to say sorry when there is something we’ve done to apologize for but we tend to overuse it!

  5. Meagan

    September 15, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I’ve never really thought about this, but you are so right. I say “I’m sorry” so many times throughout the day – and really, I shouldn’t be. I’m going to start implementing the “excuse me” instead!
    Meagan recently posted…Why Family Dinners are Important – How to Get Involved

    • chelsea

      September 16, 2015 at 10:02 am

      glad to hear you’re going to start implementing more ‘excuse me’s, meagan! i never really noticed either until someone pointed it out! i’ve found it also makes my ‘i’m sorry’s more powerful too!

  6. Diana

    September 16, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I agree with this…to a certain extent (and I have worked to stop apologizing for things I’m not exactly sorry for).

    However, I also don’t think it should be viewed as a weakness to say sorry, because that’s where this “don’t say sorry” stuff comes from. I once had a boss who told me that I say it too much. Then when I worked to NOT say it as much, I was told that I was passing blame to others (which I totally wasn’t doing).

    I do think women should say sorry less often because we should FEEL sorry for the things we say sorry for. So when I think about saying sorry, I ask myself, “am I truly sorry? Or will something else work here?” Excuse me is a great example of a replacement word.

    I love hearing others opinions on this, as mine go back and forth over controlling my language with words like sorry, just, and other passive language. If any of this makes sense. ☺
    Diana recently posted…Prioritize Your Tasks and Get More Done Today

    • chelsea

      September 16, 2015 at 10:04 am

      totally agree with you diana that saying sorry should not be viewed as a weakness at all! i’ve just noticed so many women (and 3 just yesterday) apologizing for things that were beyond their control that needed no apology. i like that you are asking yourself if you’re truly sorry for something before you say it – that’s great!

      totally makes sense and i really appreciate your thoughts and comments on this 🙂

  7. Elizabeth T

    September 16, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Wow I’ve never though of it quite like this before but you’re so right! I was literally nodding my head while reading through this whole post, Chelsea, and I’m determined to be a little more conscious about how I use ‘I’m sorry’ from now on.
    Elizabeth T recently posted…Finding Ways to Connect during a Long-Distance Relationship

    • chelsea

      September 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      thanks for your comment elizabeth! i am so glad you are going to be more conscious about how you use ‘i’m sorry’ because we often don’t need to be apologizing for many of the things we 🙂

  8. Charlene

    September 17, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Ugh I am so guilty of this! It’s really kind of sad that we all feel the need to apologize for things like this. Like, where did it start? Did it start because people make us feel ashamed for simply existing? Or is it just our mentality to stay out of people’s way. If someone was trying to side step me to get through somewhere, I wouldn’t be offended. Oftentimes, if they do apologize, I genuinely say “It’s Ok. No need to apologize.” And yet I apologize too in the same situation. Why?
    Charlene recently posted…How to Give Thanks in All Circumstances

    • chelsea

      September 18, 2015 at 7:51 am

      i agree charlene, it’s a hard habit to break but an important one! i don’t know where it comes from but i think probably a little bit of everything you listed, which is too bad. i like your response to others “it’s okay, no need to apologize”now we just need to remember that for ourselves!

      when i first started changing my language, i would still blurt out ‘i’m sorry’ but then try to follow up with ‘um, i mean excuse me’ and that has helped retrain my brain to form a new habit.

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