The Difference an Apology Makes

Throughout my working years so far, I’ve had the privilege to meet quite a potpourri of people from both urban, suburban, and rural areas. Not being a sexist here, but one obvious thing I noticed while working with all these colleagues, is that if we compare between the two genders, women generally have higher tendencies to apologize in their daily language.

If you could just keep an ear out for it in your office, you will notice that it is quite common for women to actually say something like “Sorry, am I disturbing you?” or “Sorry, can I come in?” before they come into your office. In meetings before they raise a point, phrases like “Sorry but I think…” and “Apologies gentlemen, I don’t understand what you’re saying…” will frequently pop up, and we don’t even realize it.

Unfortunately, I don’t really hear apologies from men under the same circumstances. Now, if it’s just a lift of a finger for womenfolk to apologize, I wonder why it is so hard for men to do the same?

One may argue that apologizing is a sign of weakness. I disagree. If that’s what you feel, then I think it’s ego at play. More often than not, men apologize for how they made others felt rather than apologizing for what they did. It’s “I’m sorry you’re angry with me” or “I’m sorry we don’t view this issue in the same light”, rather than “I’m sorry I hurt you with my words” or “I’m sorry for what I did”.

Putting oneself down and making a sincere apology is something we all should learn to do at all times. It’s about being polite. It’s about being humble. It’s about being human. Sometimes all we want is a simple apology. To make an apology is to admit that what you did was wrong, felt bad about it, and you’re going to take full responsibility of that wrong action, and make it right. It’s about taking ownership of your problems and not to “taichi” or to push the blame to someone else.

Imagine you’re driving on the highway and some bugger just suddenly cuts into your lane without a signal. Your probable first reaction would be to immediately overtake that car, show that bugger your middle finger, pull over, and give that fella a chop slam.

However, as you overtake that car, that driver glances over, raises his right and gives you the “I’m sorry” sign. You’ll realize that all of a sudden, the world is a good place to be. Being in the rat race from 9 to 5 everyday, one will realize that the working life it’s a never ending cycle of three things – reliance, appeasement, deliverance.

We rely on our colleagues, our equipments, our knowledge to get things done, so that we can appease our bosses and at the end of the day, deliver good products and service to our company’s clients. We rely on our bosses to give us good appraisals, increment, and bonuses so that we could appease that rascal back home who is screaming for an iPhone 4 or a Playstation 3, and deliver the best life money can buy for ourselves and our children.

With all these responsibilities and tasks we have at hand, there is always a possibility of things going wrong. If anything were to go wrong as a result of my actions, I’ll try my best to let that ego down and apologize, describe the problem as detailed as possible, propose a solution to the problem, and vow not to repeat the mistake again. We must remember that when we do something wrong, we are ruining someone else’s day.

But when I did made a mistake that day, it usually means it’s bad day for me as well, but the comforting thing is that I also usually get a pat on my back and hear “It’s okay Jonathan. Don’t need to apologize. Just clean up the mess you have made”. And that, would still usually make my world a good place to be.

Jonathan Fun is an inquisitive, community-driven Malaysian passionate about current affairs, who never fears to be vocal and supportive for the right causes in society. An engineer by profession, he loves music, travelling, fun and adventure and finds immense joy and fulfillment in making friends and meeting new people from all walks of life. An ardent believer in moderation, he pursues balance in everything he says and touches. Follow his blog at and his tweets at @jonathanfun. This article was first published here.

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Son, brother, friend, traveller, amateur photographer, scuba diver, and a palm oil mill engineer who pursues moderation in everything he says and touches. Follow his blog at and his tweets at @jonathanfun.

Posted on 22 March 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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