3 Wonderful Ways To Say Sorry Without Having To Use The Word ‘Sorry’ Itself

Posted: December 5, 2015

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There are many ways to say sorry, without having used the word ‘sorry’ itself. Here our writer suggests three such ways.

We all have had our share of  ‘sorry’. From the apologizing sorry to the reflexive sorry and to the needlessly repetitive ones. We are all conditioned to apologize and use the word when:

  1. It is our fault, like when we go eat that last piece of donut (sorry not sorry)
  2. It is our fault, like when we knock some coffee down all over someone’s pants! (truly sorry)
  3. When we perceive it is our fault. Like the time I said sorry to the door edge because I bumped into it. I know! (silly sorry)

We’ve all been down this and a few other variants I can think of, and a few years ago a chance random line in an article made me pause and wonder. Then I observed myself, and the number of needless times I was repeating the phrase “I am sorry!” – only to realize to my shock and horror that I was indeed apologizing and using ‘sorry’ as a stop gap filler when the situation got awkward, sudden and immediate and well, contrite.

It was my fall back comfort zone.

I spoke it with such assurance, one that could absolve all possible ramifications and give me complete salvation. Like the ground could open and swallow me and we can all go about doing our bright cheery things like nothing ever happened.

That was most likely 50% true. and I was being generous. I realized I was such a fraud (along with most of the folks who also used that as a backup,) and decided to do something about it. I mean, am such an honest Abe, and once I knew an untruth, I had to take it upon myself to fix things. Yep, did I tell you I was a girl scout?

So, I offer you other substitutes, when you want to say ‘sorry’ but it isn’t really a ‘sorry’ kind of situation or warrant.

OOPS: Yes, oops, is something that comes and fits MOST situations

  • Oops, I spilled my coffee.
  • Oops, did I actually really wake you up?
  • Oops, I forgot to water the plants!

So, most of these are your fault. Maybe there was an expectation to water those dying plants, and maybe you were not supposed to wake that person up, BUT the point remains that you follow up your ‘oops’ with a contrite action. You walk away and let the person unwind their way, you make amends by replacing the dead plants or water them if you are lucky and you mop that coffee up or fix that stain.

OKAY: As in ‘Sure’, ‘Okay’ 

  • Okay sure I can take that turn I missed.
  • Okay, so you wanted bagels instead of cereal, sure, I must have forgotten
  • Oh, I didn’t notice you sat here earlier, that’s okay, I’ll just move.

You aren’t exactly saying, ‘Sorry’ but you are acknowledging the ‘faux pas’ if at all, and you are changing the situation towards the more conducive or moving it towards the more agreeable direction. Okay, works.

Thank you

Thank you is an acknowledgment that works great in times when someone takes an effort to correct or better your action or word.

  • Oh thank you for showing me how to refill the coffee machine (after you delayed the line significantly)
  • Thanks for taking care of dinner, I’d forgotten to let you know I was running late
  • Thank you for being so understanding about me dropping out of the gig last minute.

So, you are acknowledging their corrective action and kindness, and at the same time being cognizant of the role you faltered in. Giving thanks and filling the space with gratitude immediately removes all the negativity, unpleasantness and blame game and replaces it with one of honor, respect and a smile.

With just a slight tone and change in our words and how we say them, any situation can be changed from harshness to one of conducive proper learning and growth, one that inspire hope and camaraderie.

I am not saying ‘sorry’ needs to be replaced, no, not at all, just that when and if we watch ourselves, we may just realize that we tend to over use the word and some simpler, less tenuous situations can be wrapped and packaged in a way that makes us all feel like winners.

Cover image via Shutterstock

Rads lives in the suburbs of Washington DC along with her husband, three kids and

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