Sorry, but I’m not sorry

Smiling girl trying to apologize to her offended friend
Photo: © Iakov Filimonov/ 123RF Stock Photo

“I’m sorry, but if you were right, I’d agree with you.”

— Robin Williams

A nonpology or non-apology apology is saying sorry without meaning it or acting on it. An apology that isn’t really intended to express regret is worse than not saying sorry at all. Very often we do not admit that the remarks we made were hurtful or painful. We rather try to imply that the person is being oversensitive or irrational by feeling upset about it. Needless to say, for humans remorse is a seldom-felt emotion, and ‘sorry’, an infrequently articulated word. It’s hard to feel it. It’s awkward to say it. And it’s most difficult to actually follow up on it when said.

Very often we do not admit that the remarks we made were hurtful or painful. We rather try to imply that the person is being oversensitive or irrational by feeling upset about it.

Sorry I’m not sorry

The false, hollow, fake and conditional apology is a sureshot way of making the other person feel even more hurt and frustrated. There are some people who do say, “I’m really sorry” and may not mean it, but the nonpology is something different. It reflects self-absorption and defensiveness because the blame is rather thrust upon the person who is feeling bad or who has been wronged.

The person delivering this apology typically:

  • Feels no guilt
  • Moves on quickly
  • Sees no emotion
  • Has a condition on the apology offered.

The person receiving this apology typically:

  • Is speechless
  • Feels frustrated
  • Is left disgusted
  • Wonders if he or she was bashed yet again.

Why saying sorry is hard

We know that to err is human and to forgive, divine. But there ought to be an apology somewhere in between! We often see apologizing as a mark of weakness, an admittance of wrongdoing, and hence acceptance of defeat. Understandably we refrain from doing it. Research however affirms that those who are sincerely apologized to don’t see the other person as weak. They rather appreciate the rightness of the emotion and credit the person’s maturity of accepting a mistake and seeking humble forgiveness for it. An apology that is heartfelt strengthens relationships and enhances trust, not the contrary (which is what we tend to believe).

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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra

Founder at MindFrames
Dr Shefali Batra, Psychiatrist and Cognitive Therapist, is the Founder of Mindframes and Co-founder of InnerHour. She is available at shefali@theinnerhour.com. Read more at mindframes.co.in and theinnerhour.com
Dr Shefali Batra

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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra, Psychiatrist and Cognitive Therapist, is the Founder of Mindframes and Co-founder of InnerHour. She is available at shefali@theinnerhour.com. Read more at mindframes.co.in and theinnerhour.com