Yes, there’s even etiquette no-nos when saying you’re sorry.
We all have to do it sometimes, even if we don’t want to. We’re talking about apologizing. No one’s perfect, and miscommunications are bound to happen, whether or not intentionally on anyone’s part. In the South, amongst the many invisible etiquette rules we follow every day, being able to apologize in a polite and sincere way is certainly on the list. Just as we’re taught to introduce ourselves and say thank you, we’re also taught how to apologize—and how not to apologize. It’s not as easy as briskly shooting off a text or trying to state why the other person was wrong. There are dos and don’ts of apologizing to pay attention to.
Here are 3 rude things Southerners would never say during an apology.
“I’m sorry, but…”
Apologies should not come with any caveats, such as “I’m sorry, but you were acting…” or “I’m sorry I told people not to eat your casserole, but it was gross.” It doesn’t sound genuine or leave the other party feeling as if you’re truly sorry for your actions. Instead, it asserts that they’re actually at fault, and you’re not actually wrong, which negates the whole purpose of apologizing.
“I’m sorry if…”
This adds a stipulation to an apology that somewhat blames the other party. Tacking on, “I’m sorry if you’re upset,” or “I’m sorry if you feel like I offended you in front of the whole baby shower,” does not create the view that you’re taking full responsibility. When apologizing, it should be done without accusing the other party involved, or else it does not seem sincere.
“I’m sorry. Are you?”
Apologies should not be made with an expectation of it being reciprocated. You’re taking ownership for your part, whether or not it was wholly on your side, and should never demand an apology in return. If there is fault on both sides, hopefully the other party will be open with an apology, but it should not be a requirement in order for you to make your own apology. If anything, you’ll feel better for taking responsibility for your part, even if it means being the bigger person at times.
It’s essential to detail what you’re apologizing for, being specific, as well as putting in an effort to make genuine amends. Most importantly, every apology should contain the words, “I’m sorry.” There’s no skirting around it!
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