Watercooler Work Relationships

Why You Should Say ‘Thank You’ Instead of ‘Sorry’

Written by Jessie Liu

We often apologize for small things in the workplace, thinking that is what people like to hear. Remember when you were giving a presentation? Do you say "sorry" when someone asks you to repeat or explain something from the last slide? According to a 2010 study, women also apologize more than men. But many times, we use the word "sorry" out of habit more than out of necessity.

Over apologizing can lead others to doubt you or lose confidence in your abilities. Through her comics below, Yao Xiao suggests that you say ‘thank you’ instead. Check out the following comic and see how using “thank you” instead of “sorry” can have a much different effect.


[Source: The Art of Yao Xiao]


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  • consider saying you’re welcome in response to thank you rather than no problem. this is particularly egregious from customer service people who are attempting to help with a still outstanding problem, often caused by their firm.

  • Sorry you don’t approve of the way we like to talk. Sorry that we’re going to ignore your efforts to make us obey your whims. Have a nice day.

  • When to use thank-you vs. sorry is entirely dependent upon the environment, the culture and the situation. To make a blanket comment about always using “thank you” is failing to acknowledge how culture, gender and humans in general interact.

  • As i am going to refrain from commenting on any rude posts, i will just add that in many cases… Your welcome can be used, as well as,
    “My pleasure” and “you’re worth it” depending on the context. As for a blanket statement, i did not read it as that.

  • Off-handed, mostly insincere apologies just issued out of habit are very telling. Also a problem is the thoughtless “thanks” or “thank you” as a way to close an email. People often close an email, the point of which is to give others info, to resolve problems for them etc., with some expression of thanks. Why? “You’re welcome” would be more appropriate, and “Insincerely” would be more honest.

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