Sorry, not sorry!

We see and hear it often. Emails that begin with “Sorry for…”. Conversations peppered with “sorry, but …”

I am very much in favor of a sincere apology when appropriate. I wrote one last week when I was inexcusably late for a zoom call for which I was the host. Because of the new zoom protocols, the other members weren’t able to get into the meeting and start without me. I inconvenienced (and confused) four other people whose time is precious. An apology was called for.

Yet “sorry” has become a filler, used in a range of contexts, so that it has lost its meaning. In many instances, it unnecessarily weakens the sender’s message, or worse, standing. “Sorry” can signal anxiety, a desire to people please, a language habit, or laziness used when something else is meant, such as, “pardon me” or “thank you for alerting me to…”

Why does this matter?

This isn’t simply a pet peeve of mine. This type of mental laziness can lower our emotional intelligence.

Fundamental to emotional intelligence—an essential life skill that influences success, relationships and our personal wellbeing—is accurate assessment of our internal experience and how we manage our interactions with others. The success of those interactions depends on our attention to the situation and the language we use, which can strengthen or weaken the relationship, especially at work.

So over the next few days, when you think, say or write “sorry,” notice the context. Was it necessary, or is mental laziness creeping in? What do you really mean, and is there another way to express it more purposefully? Being attentive to saying what we mean, exercises our EQ.

And increasing our emotional intelligence boosts our capacity to thrive. 

Keep thriving,


Founder, Center for Thriving in Law