Have you ever said sorry without really meaning it?

We have a constant dialogue in this house about whether someone is saying “sorry” or if it is just a “soz”.  A “sorry” is when someone is apologising for something that has happened and meaning it, and a “soz” is that person trying to get themselves off the hook.  The majority of the time it is the younger members of our household who are concerned by this issue, but occasionally the more mature crowd are also accused of such behaviour.

Imagine the righteous indignation of the little boy who believes his sister isn’t really sorry for knocking him off his bike!  Or the girl who knows her brother has deliberately thrown her coat on the floor, and says “sorry” with a wink and a smile to get back into Mum’s good books.  This is not received well, I can tell you!

I’m not really sorry

Adults find ways of getting around saying sorry, too.  There are apologies without actually Boys running away across a field.  Are you really sorry?being sorry for something.  People may say, “I am sorry that you felt that way about…”  This does not mean that the person is sorry for what they have said, and can even imply that the receiver has reacted badly.

We can also say we are sorry, but have no intention of changing our behaviour or our way of speaking in the future.  We may apologise so that we can make up with that person and avoid a tense atmosphere, but we continue with our lives the way they were before.

I have also read arguments debating whether or not we should make our children say sorry.  What if they are not sorry?  Are we just encouraging them to tell a lie to smooth things over?  Perhaps, when it is children we are talking about, we can help them to understand why we want them to say sorry.  We can explain that their actions have upset or hurt someone, and strengthen their ability to work through problems in relationships.  If they are able to understand our reasoning, that may be the time to help them say they are sorry.


I feel that sincerity is the key.  If we are not willing to apologise and to mean it, maybe we haven’t got to the root of the problem.  That person is too sensitive!  They should have realised that I wasn’t meaning them!  Or can we look a little deeper within and acknowledge that while we may not have wished to cause upset, we didn’t behave as well as we could have done in the situation.

So, before saying sorry, I wonder if it is worth examining what is behind our words.  Is our intention just to keep the peace?  Do we want to make it up to someone?  Are we willing to acknowledge that we were in the wrong this time?

Time for change

If we dig deep and allow ourselves to acknowledge that our pride might be what is in control, Woman holding a single flower.  Are you really sorry?we may be able to make a change.  Do we always want to win arguments, or do we want our relationships to be happier?  Realising that we are not always right can be challenging, but allowing ourselves to be open and sincere with others can improve our own sense of self-worth, as well as helping our connections grow at a deeper level.

Next time I make my little boy shout “sorry” down to drive to his sister so that we will be at school on time, I might think again.  I might suggest a different approach, and discuss with him why she is upset.  It might work, it might not.  It’s worth a try.

Have you ever had someone apologise to you but you knew they didn’t mean it?

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