Shift from “I’m Sorry” to “Thank You,” It Works

Jhemmylrut Teng

What we tell ourselves all the time shapes our confidence and self-esteem. Therefore, when we use words that implicate that we are inferior, our mind and heart programmed us to behave like one too.

Seven years ago, I was the kind of person who keeps on apologizing if things didn’t go as planned. Even if it was not my fault, I have always believed that saying sorry is a form of respect, politeness, or showing courtesy to other people. However, my over-apologetic behavior made me susceptible to negative consequences that I shouldn’t be having in the first place.

Nonetheless, due to my journey to self-awareness and acceptance, I get to select a situation that requires my sincerest apology. Hence, if the situation was beyond my control, I started saying “thank you,” instead of “I’m sorry.”

Perils of Too Many Apologies

Saying “I’m sorry” might seem harmless on the surface. However, making it a habit, and injecting it into every sentence you utter could jeopardize you and your relationship to other people.

Sorry Makes People Treat You Less Than

Over-apologizing creates a power imbalance with the people around you, including your partner, to disrespect you. The tendency is that you are training them to feel superior in the relationship. The more you apologize, the greater their power over you.

Nurturing Insecurity

By saying sorry all the time shows that you always doubt yourself, and that hurts your self-esteem. People around you can also use that to abuse you because they get to see that you are looking for validation or external approval. If you are doing this in your relationship, either your partner can manipulate you or you are giving them a reason to move away from you. Your partner will never see you as an equal.

No One Would Buy it Anymore

Constant apologizing can be perceived as insincere — worst, annoying. It is quite similar when you encounter a pathological liar, and you start not believing what they say. Unwarranted apologies reduce the clarity of your message and intention. Hence, it can weaken the phrase’s strength to a point where it may come off as dishonest.

The Benefits of Being Grateful

In juxtaposing the danger of being overly apologetic is the advantage of gratitude. Being grateful not only helps you to be a better person, but also improve your communication and relationship with other people. Based on the study of Sara Algoe, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gratitude is a glue that can bring people together as well as creating happiness from the inside out.

“It turns out that there’s an emotion that happens to be really amazing at helping us solve this essential human problem of survival. And that emotion is gratitude.”

Gratitude Is Good for Your Well-being

Being grateful, according to the research of the Institute of HeartMath says, it improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly, and heal physically. When you are grateful, you supply your body and brain with emotions and endorphins that uplift and energize you rather than the stress hormones that drain you.

Acknowledging Other Person’s Effort

Saying thank you creates a better connection between two people. It means that a good deed is recognized and remembered. Dacher Keltner, in his book, The Power Paradox, identifies that saying “thank you,” can create lasting benefits for both the person saying it and the receiver. People who were thanked for the effort they have done were twice as likely to volunteer for more.

It Breaks Tension

Expressing “thank you” is a powerful phrase that takes away from ourselves and gives warmth to those around us. The appreciation we communicate and our ability to sincerely say “thank you” have a dramatic influence on how we associate with others. Therefore, telling it disarms other person’s defenses, which weakens rising tension.

From Sorry to Thank You

Instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” practice the art of saying “thank you,” this also sends a courteous approach, but compared to apologies, gratitude refrains you from wrecking your self-esteem. It also projects that you are a considerate, humble, confident, and classy human being.

Therefore, instead of saying these:

  1. “I’m sorry I ate too much of your time for showing me around…”
  2. “I’m sorry I’m not the type who likes these things…”
  3. “I’m sorry for calling you? May I talk to you?”
  4. “I’m sorry I am late…”
  5. “I’m sorry I keep on talking and talking and talking.”

Consider these phrases:

  1. “Thank you for showing me around. I really had an amazing time.”
  2. “Thank you, and I appreciate your kind understanding.”
  3. “Thank you for answering my call. You’re good to talk?”
  4. “Thank you for your patience.”
  5. “Thank you for listening.”


So, if you want to apologize to someone genuinely, stop making it about you, and make it about them. Allow the compliment of saying “thank you” to meet the circumstances and even embellish on why you appreciate someone.

Moreover, recognizing other people’s feelings, you are praising their effort and contribution in the situation. You are training them to see you in a more positive light, and slowly gaining their respect. Bear in mind that “thank you” is much more powerful than “I’m sorry.”

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I am a PR officer and a professional journalist with a master's degree in international development. I write history, geopolitics, food, and culture. Since I am a member of the API community, I make sure to highlight our stories to promote diversity and create awareness for cultural understanding.


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