Based in Washington, Ross is a general manager of a food safety company. His musings explore life, work and every moment in between.

"Sorry" vs "thank you"

I have noticed a thin line between saying “sorry” versus “thank you” and I have been stuck in a pattern of “sorry.”

“Sorry we had to move this meeting back a few days.” “Sorry you have to fix this.” “Sorry you had to pick up Sloan today.” Each of these statements carry indebtedness, misplaced indebtedness. The word “sorry” attempts to create and potentially manipulate forgiveness. It does not carry a tone of gratitude. Sorry is about me feeling better and not at all about the other person. Rewriting those statements to use thank you changes the sentiment. “Thank you for moving this meeting back a few days.” Thank you for fixing this.” “Thank you for picking up Sloan today.” When we use thank you instead of sorry we are able to give to the other person the rare and important gift of gratitude.

In my experience, the impulse to apologize rather than express thanks is ever present. By apologizing, I have jumped to asking for forgiveness. This is a downer for both parties. ‘Sorry’ leads to a muted, sad little exchange, where as ‘thank you’ elevates both parties and effectively does the opposite.

Consider ditching the transactional apology. In its place, think of gratitude.

Grandma Vena's 90th Birthday

Resume vs Eulogy Virtues