As a Canadian who has spent a considerable amount of time in the States, I am very aware of our reputation as overly polite people.  This is heightened by the fact that our pronunciation of the word 'sorry' is one of the few noticeable differences in accent.

Are there times when maybe we shouldn't be so apologetic?

On a recent podcast, former NBA player Jalen Rose said that he loves when fans come up to him and ask him for an autograph, or just want to say hi in passing.  However, when they open with "Sorry for approaching you while you're out at dinner", or something to that effect, it gets in his head.  'Hey, yeah.  They ARE interrupting my dinner.'  And then what could have been a nice 30 second encounter becomes a chore. 

I get many e-mails from musicians I've barely met telling me about their shows halfway across the continent.  I still at least glance at what they are doing as part of the global music community.  It never occurs to me to unsubscribe from their lists- unless they open with the infamous "Sorry for the mass e-mail..."

Music students are frequently apologists at inopportune times, before they play "Sorry I didn't practice", or even while they are playing when a finger slips. 

In Susan Cain's book about introverstion "Quiet", she talks about how people are seen as likeable if they genuinely seem ashamed of what they did, downturned eyes, a slight blush.  Imagine the difference between someone apologizing in this way after spilling a drink on you as opposed to them saying: "Hey I'm coming through with a drink, sorry in advance if I spill any on you." 

Maybe it's a better idea to wait until you're finished what you're doing and then see if you are actually sorry.

1 comment

  • Denis
    Denis Ottawa
    Very good advice.

    Very good advice.

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