Are you sorry? Really?

Sorry Torn Paper ConceptAs I was walking into the office this morning, a woman with a jaunty ponytail was wheeling a trolley filled with boxes through a set of double doors. I had to wait about 8 seconds for her to maneuver through the door. As she passed me, she said, “So sorry to make you wait.”

I thought, “Geez, no need to be sorry. No biggie to have to wait. It was only 8 seconds!”

This got me thinking about the word ‘sorry’.¬†We hear it and use it all the time. But what does it really mean?!

Vicki, one of our fab interns, thinks the words ‘I’m sorry’ are straight up lame. She goes so far as to tell us never to say ‘I’m sorry’ in this post.

I’m not sure I can get behind the categorical elimination of the words “I’m sorry” because sometimes you really are sorry. It’s how you say the words and what you follow up with that makes a difference, it turns out. If you listen to this week’s Language Lab podcast, I lay out the anatomy of an effective apology and look at how different cultures relate to, and use, the word ‘sorry’. Kinda fascinating, IMHO.

The Wordifier
data showed us that 16.9% of nonprofits use the word ‘sorry’ on their website. It gets a yellow “Whoa, Nelly” light. I’m curious about this. Are nonprofits¬†sorry for something they’ve done? Are they referring to a sorry state of affairs which they are trying to rectify? For what are nonprofits sorry? Certainly not for doing everything in their power to create a better world. Further research may reveal more on nonprofits’ relationship with apologies. I just hope they’re following-up with the two magic questions that make for an effective apology (which I cover, yep, in the podcast).