Do you have the habit of apologising for not being able to hear someone and you end saying “sorry” because you feel that it’s your fault.
Don’t worry if that applies to you, as I am also very guilty of saying the above and more over the years.
And personally, I believe should all stop over-apologising, as it having negative consequences to our lives.
So what can you do instead? Why do we do it in the first place? And why is it important to nip it in the bud so that we don’t do it again in the future?
You can listen the podcast…
…watch the video…
…or read the transcript below.
Does this sound like you?
“Sorry, I’m deaf”.
“Sorry I’m hard of hearing”.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you”.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you at all”.
Let me know in a comment at the bottom below if that applies to you because that applies to me so much.
I say all of these things and beyond and I’ve been saying it for many many years and I think, I believe that we should just stop. Just stop saying that because it just doesn’t do any good to any of us, it actually has negative consequences.
So I want to talk about why I think we should all stop apologising, and especially all that apologising for being deaf and hard of hearing.
I’d love to hear from your own personal experience if that applies to you, why do you do it?
But I guess for me it’s a reflex thing, I just do it without even thinking about it, that’s not a good thing. But then I also think about why do I do it when I do it?
And maybe it’s because I’m trying to be compassionate and sympathetic to the other person because maybe they’re trying their hardest to get to know you and to communicate with you and you just struggle and you can’t do it.
But then obviously, for me, I think that actually blames yourself because by apologising you’re blaming yourself for those problems.
Maybe the other reason’s because we want to avoid awkwardness, so if you are trying your best and you’re struggling and struggling and you just couldn’t do it and eventually you want to break the awkwardness. You know, just admit that you can’t hear it by saying, “sorry I can’t hear you”, or “sorry I’m deaf”.
Then maybe that’s another thing, you just want to avoid that awkwardness but again, is that a good thing?
Or maybe just because, in my case, maybe just the whole British politeness where we like to queue and we like to say please and thank you and we seemingly like to apologise for certain things as well, sometimes but maybe it’s that.
I don’t know, that applies to me, maybe it doesn’t apply to you but I’d love to know why do you do it? Let me know, I’m really curious to know. So there are a number of reasons why I believe we should stop apologising, stop saying I’m sorry for this.
And because you are deaf or hard of hearing and the only situation comes with it.
Why we should stop apologising for being deaf or hard of hearing?
Here are the reasons why I think we should stop apologising.
1. You are not sorry
Number one is, because you not really sorry at all. I know in my case, I’m not really sorry, it’s just a way to diffuse the situation, make it less awkward and maybe to admit to something.
But the thing is, it means that I admit to being faulty or having an impairment which is not a thing I want to say at all.
2. You may be seen as weak or pushover
Number two is, because it may make you seem a bit weak or a pushover because you are over apologising for what is “wrong” with you.
And I quote with a quotation mark, air-quote, “wrong” because that is not something that you should think at all, you should not ever say that there is something wrong with you but that is the perception that other people might have of you if you keep saying sorry.
You might end up becoming a pushover which is not what we want at all.
3. May make you feel guilty
It might actually also make you feel guilty and if that is the case then I don’t think you should feel guilty at all.
Again for the same reason, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just the situation, it is what it is.
But you don’t want to feel guilty about something that is not your fault.
4. May cause unnecessary guilt to others
And number four, even related to that, it may cause unnecessary guilt, not just on yourself but also the other person as well.
That person may feel guilty for not being accommodating or did a bad job or just didn’t really do well to help you communicate with each other.
And that might cause unnecessary guilt just because we are over apologising.
5. It can be annoying
Number five is an obvious one, it can be annoying. And imagine if someone says something and you say, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry and you just kept on doing it.
And it can get annoying eventually and it may frustrate you and then it may frustrate them as well so, don’t do it. It can be annoying.
6. ‘Sorry’ make lose its meaning
Sixth is that maybe it will eventually lose its meaning.
By saying sorry all the time, then I know you’re not going to forget what sorry means but it seems like, you will forget what sorry means because we are using it in a different context.
We’re not using it in the right way that I believe that we should be using it for.
So by overdoing it, maybe we are just going to eventually lose it’s meaning.
7. It’s not your fault
And number seven, I think it’s a big one for me, on the particular issue, it’s not your fault and I don’t ever think that you should apologise for something that is not your fault.
If it’s something that you were born with, or something, even if it’s like accidental or an incident happened that made you lose your hearing, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s just not your fault, we just have to live with it. We have to embrace it, we have to move forward with it but do not make it seem like it’s something that is a burden to other people because then you have to apologise for that.
It’s not your fault!
How do we stop over-apologising?
So what do we do then? How do we stop over apologising especially if it’s something that is like a reflex, it’s an instinct, you just can’t really help yourself, you just do it automatically, what do we do?
Well here are some suggestions that I’ve got for you.
1. Think or pause before you speak
Number one is to think to just pause just for a second or two before you even think about going to say I’m sorry, for whatever.
Just pause for that second and you might be able to just nip it in the bud, but also you might also want to think about why are you saying it in the first place you want to make sure, “oh am I really sorry”?
Or I just want to make the situation better? Whatever it is, think about why are you saying it and then just pause for a second and maybe you want to say something else.
2. Express compassion differently
Number two is to express compassion differently and I’ll come to that in a second but maybe instead of making each other feel guilty.
Maybe you can find another way you can make it more a comfortable experience when you are communicating with each other.
And I’ll come back to that later.
3. Understand your triggers
Number three is to understand your triggers. What is it that is making you say I’m sorry? Can you pinpoint what is it that’s doing that to you?
Because if you can do that, you might be able to just nip it in the bud and not let it get to make it really bad for you. And then you just do it instantly, automatically, all the time and you just don’t really think about it in the end.
So what is the trigger that makes you over apologise for being deaf or hard of hearing?
4. Rephrase your question or phrase carefully
Number four will be to rephrase your question or your phrase careful.
Again I’m going to come back to it in a second but by rephrasing “I’m sorry”, if you say it in a different way, you might be able to actually overcome a situation of over apologising.
Again, let me get back to you in just a second.
5. Turn it into gratitude
And number five, again I’ll come back to it in more detail is to turn it into gratitude.
Because again, that will make it less awkward, less guiltiness and it makes you look more in a stronger position and be also proud of your situation, and not let it get to you too much as well.
So, turn it into gratitude as well.
How to turn it into gratitude?
So how do you do all that? What could you say instead?
Well this is where I’m going to get into it, instead of saying “I’m sorry” here are the things that you could say.
1. “Excuse me…[fill in the gap]”
If sorry is a habit of yours, maybe you want to just change that word a little bit and say, “excuse me”, or “pardon me”. Maybe you want to change that a little bit because instead of apologising, you’re actually wanting to ask them to repeat what they said.
So instead of “I’m sorry I’m deaf”, then say “excuse me…” and fill in the gap.
So just rephrasing that to “excuse me” or “pardon me” then that can make a big difference.
2. “Thank you, I appreciate your effort”
Number two would be to, instead of being sorry for something that takes so long, like someone get that message across to you, instead of saying “I’m sorry”, turn it into gratitude and just say “thank you, I appreciate your effort” and then you continue on.
And that’s it, it’s a positive way, it’s more of a gratitude toward it and I think it’s a much better way of saying thank you and making it a nice feeling than saying sorry. So turn it into gratitude that way.
3. “Excuse me, I’m deaf”
Number three, if you want to say that you are deaf or hard of hearing, if you want to be, not too direct but you want to make a point of it in a maybe gentle way you can something like, “excuse me, I’m deaf”. Or, “you’ll have to excuse me, I’m deaf”, something along that line.
Because that again, that’s not saying that you’re putting it on yourself, you’re making it a point to them, that excuse I’m deaf. So that is just saying, in a way, “FYI, here’s the situation can we make it work?”
But then you could be direct if you want to.
4. “I’m deaf” / “I’m hard of hearing”
Number four, you can just say straight up “I’m deaf”…”I’m hard of hearing”. You can just say it straight away if you feel comfortable with that, if it’s the right person that you can say it to.
If it works for you then you can say it.
5. “Could you please repeat that?”
And number five would be, again instead of saying “I’m sorry”, you could say something like, “could you please repeat that?“.
If you want to do it in, again, in a more polite way, in a gentle way, you want to have sympathy for the other person but also sympathy on yourself.
Be kind to yourself and that’s why I want to say all of these things. Just say something like, “could you please repeat that?”
6. Pick & mix different options
And then also, you can combine all of these things together so you can say, “could you please repeat that because I am deaf”.
So you have the combination of that phrase with a bit of directness to it as well. You can combine any of that and then just find out what works for you.
Now I’ve given you all of these options but maybe you’re one of those kind who are more strict.
7. Be more “street”?
Or you you want to be more colloquial and then you just want to say stuff like:
“What did you say?!”
“I can’t hear you!”
Or something along that line, if it suits, then that’s up to you, its not something that I would suggest or recommend but, if that works of you then you should choose your own but, anyway, I’ve give you some options.
Let’s all work together, let’s help each other and make sure that we don’t over apologise for something that, well really, it’s not our fault.
We don’t want to make ourselves feel bad, we don’t want to make ourselves feel guilty and to the other person, you don’t want to make them feel bad or guilty, any of these things.
We can do that together and if we all do that together maybe one day we can change our perception.
Because having something like being deaf or hard of hearing is not always negative thing and we don’t want the general hearing world to see it as a negative thing. It’s just something that, it is what it is.
So, let’s stop over apologising and I think it’s something that wold be really good for all us.
Let me know in the comments what you think about that. Do you agree with it, do you not agree with and do you have your own experiences? Any other other recommendations?
Any tips and advice, I’d love to know what you think. Let me know in the comments as well.
And make sure also subscribe so that you don’t miss out any future episode of Hear Me Out![CC] on top of it too.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
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Johnny Gordon says
Very relative post. In live in the Southeastern U.S so I can relate about the desire to be polite. I have said “Sorry” numerous times and find it to be dehabibilating. It’s a work in progress. I sometimes use the phrase “Say again,” and it can still be a let down. There a strategy tip that I have use before that can be helpful or harmful depending on the person. If someone bluntly begins a conversation and I’m having difficulties, I may use the phrase “Can you elaborate.” When the person begin to explain further, I can most likely disciper what was originally said. One problem with this is the possibility that the speaker believes your thought process is slow. Not sure. My new phrase I’m working on is “I’m unable to hear you.” As of today, I’m going to stop saying sorry. Great post.
Keep doing what you do, Ahmed
Ahmed Khalifa says
It’s going to be hard to get rid of a habit like saying “sorry” all the time. Like you, it’s work in progress for me.
The option of using “Can you elaborate?” is a good one, though I would hope that I will be able to hear the second time round.
Thanks for sharing your ideas Johnny. And thanks for your kind words.
yes I say sorry all the time & I did today ! I feel that all masks should be clear lol so we can read their lips. People find it frustrating having to pull their mask down for the deaf/hard of hearing then you feel bad. A doctor today refused to put her mask down & was frustrated whilst asking me questions for my 2nd covid jab. At the end I was so embarrassed and said “sorry I’m deaf” 😞 Thanks for this article it helps but get it out there for clear masks only!
Ahmed Khalifa says
That’s OK Jac. It’s a habit that it took me a while to get rid of (but I still do it unintentionally). The situation of asking them to pull down their masks to lipread is actually a classic example as it has happened to me too.
You will get the hang of it eventually.
How did you discover that you are deaf?
Ahmed Khalifa says
You can learn about my story here: https://hearmeoutcc.com/my-story/