When To Apologize At Work & When It's Unnecessary   | Fusion - WeRIndia

When To Apologize At Work & When It’s Unnecessary  

When to Apologize at Work

There are times when an apology is appropriate, but in many situations, it is unnecessary.

For better or worse, saying you’re sorry for every little thing could have a negative influence on your professional potential.

There are a lot all kinds of ways apologize in the workplace – for big deal mistakes, for not catching something small, for misreading an email or for interrupting in a meeting.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it shows you just how many things people apologize for.

The key is to stop over-apologizing. If you are constantly saying “I’m sorry,” people will get tired of it  or may be irritated sometime and not ever feel like you’re genuinely sorry, even if you are, so you lose legitimacy.

First, you need to be careful of how you phrase an apology. The following phrases focus on you, rather than the person who was affected by your mistake. They also may come across in a way you didn’t intend, as passive-aggressive and deflecting blame from yourself.

Instead, concentrate on the person and how he or she was affected, how the person is feeling and what he or she needs from you. That will help you determine when an apology is in order and when it’s not obligatory. Phrases to be wary of:

Here are how to recognize when you’re over-apologizing and what to do about it.


Sometimes we automatically say, “Sorry!” when a person holds the door for us, steps out of our path on the sidewalk, or does something similarly kind for us. A better response in these situations is: “Thank you!”


 If you apologize when you forget to copy someone on an email unintentionally, simply forward it and say, “I meant to copy you on this email.”

If you’re sorry you didn’t respond sooner to an email, decide if that’s because of a deadline you yourself put on it, or if it was something that required a timely response and you missed it. Only in the latter case is an apology warranted.


Are you apologizing for calling someone one to five minutes later than the scheduled time? Rather than getting yourself in this situation, do your best to inform the person beforehand if you know you’ll be running late.

Shoot them a quick note to let them know you’re running behind and when to expect your call.


Some people interrupt others in meetings tactfully when the discussion needs to be reined in, while others are not so considerate. When you do feel the need to refocus the conversation for the benefit of a group, you don’t need to say you’re sorry for jumping in.

You can simply say, “Excuse me, I’d like to get back to this topic so we can wrap up by 2:00 PM (mention the time suitable for everyone).”



If you always apologize to people for not remembering their name, it may get old. Another way to approach this is to tell them your name first, because you assume they forgot as well and help them out in case they did! You can say something along the lines of, “Hi, great to see you. I know we’ve met before. I’m Jane, and your name again is …?”

While there are times when you need to apologize sincerely, over-apologizing for the insignificant things doesn’t do much except de legitimize your apologies.

You want to make sure that when you do need to say you’re sorry, it’s believable and heartfelt. So, if you’re someone who says you’re sorry often, take note of when you’re doing it and try to remove it from your everyday vocabulary. Your confidence will rise and co-workers will appreciate it.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash (Free for commercial use)

Image Reference: https://unsplash.com/photos/OQMZwNd3ThU

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