Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why So Sorry?

So last week, I was leafing through some of the magazines at work during a lunch break one day.  One of them, Macleans, featured an article from one of the December issues called "The Etiquette Expert's Tips on Turning Heads".

The topic of etiquette always piques my interest so I read on.   The article was about how an etiquette expert, Adeodata Czink, conducted a one day etiquette workshop in Toronto for teens about topics such as punctuality, posture, first impressions, grooming, room entrances, body language, greeting people, answering phone calls properly and manners. 

Two points in the article that jumped out at me were about room entrances and a certain over-used phrase. 

1.  Own the Room.

Ms Czink states that "whenever you enter a room, you should think 'I, the queen' or 'I, the king, have arrived.'  This is what gives the self-confidence.  We don't have 'Sorry, I am here.'  It's ta-dum!"

This statement had me thinking about how I enter a room.  If I am going somewhere familiar, I am usually confident and walk in like I believe it.  If I am going somewhere for the first time and feel shy/uneasy, I usually adopt the "Sorry, I am here"  slouchy posture stance.  I have natural wallflower tendencies and my worst fear is looking like I don't know what I am doing or where I am going!

One doesn't have to be apologetic for being in the room.  This statement inspired me to think about owning the room, like I deserve to be there.  No more "Sorry, I am here", but "I am here, no apologies!"

2.  Get Rid of the Sorry.

I laughed out loud when I first read this quote in the article:  "You're not sorry!  Canadians are constantly sorry.  I'm stepping on your foot and instead of saying, 'Move Over,' you say, 'Sorry.' "   Ms Czink goes on to say, "Get rid of the sorry.  It's in our vocabulary almost as much as the 'um' and the 'like' and the 'sort of'. "

This is so true.  Living in Canada and myself being one of those "I'm sorry" people, Canadians are constantly saying 'sorry' for things they don't have to be sorry about.  (I find it ironic that people say "I'm sorry" for unsorry/ridiculous things and "I apologize" for things they are actually sorry about or when they are forced to make an apology...ever notice that?)   Of course, there are the over-sorry people and the not-ever-sorry people.....

Who knows where the "sorry" mentality came from but it inspired me to shut up and quit saying "I'm sorry" unless I really am sorry about something! 

Self-improvement is always a good thing.

Are you in the Sorry Club?


  1. Oops, that sorry thing comes from us, ..sorry!

  2. OK, this is a hot button for me so here I go...

    I'm not Canadian and I have certainly noticed the apologetic nature of Canadians, living here for the past few years. There seems to be a self-perception that Canadians are polite but I disagree, they mistake apologetic behavior for politeness. I've made this comment before on DaniBPs blog and I stand firm on this one.

    Never say, "I'm sorry" unless you are responsible for injurious behavior and want to comfort the person who is hurt. From a legal perspective, apologizing for your behavior can be considered an admission of guilt so use apologies only in appropriate situations. If you've stepped on someone's foot well yes, you can apologize or if it's due to a crowded bus a simple, "Pardon me" is sufficient.

    As far as entering a room as the queen or king, I totally disagree with this comment. I was raised to follow proper protocol and understanding my role in any situation helps me know how to behave. I will never be a queen but I am important in my own right and so is everyone else. I can make others comfortable and feel included by my behavior, chances are I am not the only one who is a bit nervous in certain situations. Proper posture is important, but so is a warm smile and a kind word. Be happy to be wherever you are.

  3. I've heard that we Canucks always say sorry...I know I do it too.
    Owning a room would feel very peculiar for me.

  4. I think the older I get, the less sorry I tend to be. People like to walk all over sorry. I will apologize when it is needed and I feel it is a genuine expression. Living in Michigan, pretty close to Canadian neighbors, I think people in this area tend to be the sorry sort too.

    One of my favorite things to read are vintage beauty and etiquette books. I have a great one produced by "Seventeen" magazine from the late 60s/early 70s. If young people (and old) put to use what these books teach, it would be a much lovelier world. ~~Bliss

  5. XOXO - Very interesting, thank you for your comment.

    Bliss - I agree, people do tend to walk all over sorry (I know from experience!) I am getting better though.

  6. Hostess - Owning a room would be peculiar for me too, I took the quote to mean entering a room with confidence and be responsible for maintaining that confidence while in the room.

  7. It's a British thing, I'm sure and I say 'sorry' endlessly. It's a crowded place over here and one jostles and squeezes a lot. In the US, I would have said, 'Excuse me', as in pardon me for stepping on you. 'Excuse me' over here in Britain seems to mean very specifically, 'Please get out of my way' which is not always what I mean, so I say sorry (I just shoved past you). It seems a polite thing to do to keep from acting as though I think I do own the whole planet. So, yeah, I'm definitely in that 'Sorry club'.

    When I would enter a room, like for a business meeting (back in the day) and I felt intimidated, I would focus on keeping my head up and shoulders back (I have good posture, therefore I must be confident.) I would scan the room looking for a friendly face and ignore any of those 'what is she doing here' looks (if there were any, but it sometimes feels like there are). Failing someone I knew, I'd head for the coffee and think of a marginally intelligent question to ask the first person I met who was unoccupied. Brits are terribly shy in these situations so I often felt I had the upper hand for just being able to speak.

    I just realised this is a really long comment...sorry!

  8. Shelley - You perfectly summed it up, I totally get it! Brits and Canadians are similar.