Have you ever noticed that Australians apologize too much? Often the “sorry” is not even necessary?
If so, what is the cause?
Do people in your own country collectively apologize too much and unnecessarily?
Check out my video response below:
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I am a proud Australian. However, this does not mean that I cannot examine the faults in our culture, as well as the positives. I felt compelled to write about one of the social patterns in Australia that continue to grate on my nerves.
Australians apologize too much! Way too much!
Perhaps you have noticed this too. The use of the word “sorry” is at maximum overload. It’s used when it’s not necessary and this is why it has agitated me so much.
I have never noticed “sorry” being used so incorrectly and so unnecessarily in other nations. I’ve been told Canadians are just as bad, if not worse, than Australians in this regard. I have yet to visit Canada so I cannot confirm that claim but it certainly is believable.
I really noticed the fact that Australians apologize too much when I worked in retail. Here are some examples that I witnessed on countless occasions:
“Sorry” For Wanting To Buy More:
I would process a transaction and hand back the customer his/her change or EFTPOS receipt. They would meekly and timidly hold out an additional item they wanted to buy “I’d like this too. Is that Ok? I’m sorry”
Why on earth is an apology necessary for spending more? Why are they asking if it’s OK? The whole point of a retail business is to make as many sales as possible. An additional sale is only beneficial to the business. What the hell is with this overt hesitation?
“Sorry” For Wanting To Look At Product
People would often apologize for wanting to look at product. “I’d like to look at that…sorry”. Why are you apologizing for wanting to examine a product? For what reason are you apologizing for something you want to do? There’s no need to apologize to me for wanting to examine something that you might buy.
“Sorry” When I Make The Error
This one happened far less frequently but was extremely frustrating. At times, I would hand over the wrong product to a customer. The customer would tell me that I gave them the wrong item. They would immediately follow it up with a “sorry”. I asked them “why are you apologizing to me? In this instance I should be apologizing to you!”The answer was always the same “I don’t know”.
I started challenging people over their apologies. I would ask why they were sorry. On every occasion they said they were not. This gave me opportunity to challenge them and ask them why they would apologize if they weren’t sorry.
Some people explained that they apologized because they thought they were being difficult or an inconvenience. This made me laugh.
I realized that the reasons Australians apologize too much, and so unnecessarily, was part of a wider social issue. There’s a great need to be liked and to be likeable. How do we become so? We place an emphasis on being polite. There is a great need to not offend. No doubt, this comes from an old world Anglo Saxon mentality.
There is nothing wrong with being polite. However, there is such a thing as being overly polite. Therefore, over politeness and being overly and unnecessarily apologetic becomes a form of annoyance.
In these instances “sorry” doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s automatic and disingenuous. There’s no substance or validity in it because people are on auto pilot when using it in these instances. They are your not conscious of the words they are using. However, they do seem conscious of being very polite and not offending.
People who tread so carefully and are so eager to not offend that they produce apologies that don’t have any sincerity are more annoying that people who actually are offensive.
The Russians don’t do it. Nor do the Swiss, French, Spanish or Greeks. They are not rude. Australians often find them rude because they are blunt and upfront. They don’t feel the need to sugar coat or to be likeable. I love that!
Only say sorry when it’s necessary!
Check out my article on bare feet in public here