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Activate Human Capital Group Blog

For many folks, saying “sorry” is a habitual politeness. Apologizing for circumstances and situations even beyond your control for the sake of others’ comfort is more of a learned response. Consider the last time you apologized to someone for something – maybe you were running a few minutes behind or failed to hold the elevator door. Was that “sorry” really warranted? And might there have been another way to express your concern without apologizing?

In the workplace, learning to distinguish between the best moments to say, “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” can be crucial. Ultimately, over-apologizing for things you have little control over can make people think less of you. When meeting new co-workers, supervisors, and clients, you want to set out on the right foot – and adopting a habit of replacing “sorry” with “thank you” can help you do just that.

Before we give you strategies for forming this important habit, remember that it usually takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to do so.  See below for a handful of helpful strategies that will have you saying “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry” whenever possible.

1. Reframe your comment

The easiest way to incorporate this habit into your daily dialogue is to reframe something you were already going to say. For instance, say you show up 5 minutes late to a meeting, instead of saying “sorry” for being late, say “thank you for your patience.”

In doing this, you remove the burden from yourself for what may have caused you to be late that might have been out of your control. This habit changes the dynamic of your conversation from a series of excuses to an attitude of gratitude; as opposed to expressing condolences for your tardiness, you express appreciation for the other person’s presence. In this way, the conversation is wholly more positive, providing you a solid foundation for more productive discourse.

2. Place expressing gratitude over expressing condolences

In the last example, we noted how saying “thank you” as opposed to “sorry” can help you come off more grateful and less apologetic. Forming this habit mentally by reminding yourself that gratitude is greater than appearing apologetic can be helpful in forming a habit of replacing “sorry” with “thank you.”

If you truly struggle with this habit, start your day with some affirmations, like the following:

  • “My gratitude is my greatest strength. I do not withhold regrets or condolences.”
  • “I am grateful for my job and my team.”
  • “I am grateful for my life.”

These affirmations can help you kick the habit of over-apologizing while centering your life – and your outlook – around feelings of gratefulness.

3. Remember the benefits

While over-apologizing has several known negative impacts, expressing gratitude carries several known benefits to both you and the recipients of your gratitude. Saying “thank you” to someone for things like simply showing up makes those around you feel seen and can have fundamental impact on their day. Additionally, it establishes you as a kind and grateful person within your life and workplace, something that will undoubtedly help you in the long run.

4. Make sure your “thanks” is earned

However, there is a line to toe. Just like over-apologizing, being overly thankful can make you appear weak and can be annoying to others. When delivering your expressions of gratitude, ensure that your “thanks” is warranted. Then, when saying “thank you” be accurate and specific. Make sure to include details specific to the situation, ensure your gratitude has the greatest impact on its recipient.

Saying “thank you” as opposed to “I’m sorry” when possible can have a positive impact on your interpersonal dynamics, especially within your workplace. Activate Human Capital Group knows how crucial this skill is to bolstering employees in the workplace. Our services can help your employees institute this habit and become the best versions of their selves.

Give us a chance to help you realize impactful results. For more information about Activate Human Capital Group’s Employee Engagement Offerings or to schedule a demonstration of our tools, contact us today.