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The Chaos of Over-Apologizing

Updated: Apr 19

When the New York Yankees clashed with the Minnesota Twins for the AL Division Title in 2009, I sported my “lucky #20” NYY jersey and headed to the Metrodome. ⚾

Despite the high stakes, there was a unique and unmistakable civility and temperament demonstrated by the Twins fans, often referred to as “Minnesota Nice” 😀 a phenomenon known for its emphasis on politeness and friendliness, in the state of Minnesota.

I appreciate these qualities but didn’t expect them to be pervasive at this outing, particularly to someone wearing the opposing team’s jersey.

The Yankees won and, on my way out of the stadium with another NYY jersey-wearing fan, a remark suggesting Yankees buy their championships was hurled in our direction from a disappointed Twins fan. 🏟️ 🏅

There was nothing overtly spiteful about the banal comment, but I sensed a passive and resolute tone. I ignored it but was stunned when my Yankee cohort turned to sweetly say, “I’m sorry.”

...HUH? 🤔

I believe a sincere apology can go a long way in making amends, even when unintended harm is caused, but in this case, wasn’t winning the reason for the game?

I’m not suggesting a bar brawl or hurtful insults are necessary, but neither is an apology when the intended and desired outcome is achieved. 🏅

What was she sorry for - being a fan? For her team emerging the victor? For the passive insult from the other fan’s injured pride?

Inappropriate use of the term, “I’m sorry” is not only insincere, but it can also pilfer your power. ⛔

When an important “someone” in an appropriate setting expresses their disappointment, but an apology isn't necessarily warranted, it's still important to acknowledge their feelings. Here are three things you can say instead:

☑️ I understand that you're feeling disappointed, and I'm here to listen if you want to talk about it further.

☑️ I see that this outcome wasn't what you were hoping for, and I appreciate your honesty about how you're feeling. Is there anything I can do to help or support you right now?

☑️ I know it's tough to deal with disappointment, but please know that your feelings are valid. Let's brainstorm some ways to move forward positively from here.


Powerful Perspectives
The Thrive Model


The chaos of over-apologizing may just be a habit. But being aware of it is the first step to choosing a Powerful Perspective that leads us to thrive. ✨

I’ve curated the best from my coaching practice, thought leadership and unique development programs to create something that takes the guesswork out of how to manage the chaos creators and the emotional chaos they incite - with kindness, confidence, and compassion.

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