I’m Sorry

Over the years I’ve been contacted by many journalism students for interviews for their assignments. These assignments are either print, television, or radio, in person or telephone. All are fun for me and I hope helpful for the students.

Last week I was contacted by Jennifer Turnbull, a 4th year journalism student at Carleton University. Here is part of her request; “I am currently pursuing a radio story about how often Canadians apologize/say sorry on a regular basis.”

How interesting! I’m aware that Canadians have an apologetic reputation. This should be a fun one I thought. With minor schedule juggling we met for her brief interview. Out of her small bag appeared a recorder, microphone, and what looked like ten metres of wire.

Since it is unlikely that we are going to have access to Jennifer’s assignment here are the main points we discussed:

  • Jennifer asked when we should apologize. My answer – when we have done or said something inappropriate or know we have done something wrong or hurt someone in some way.

  • I volunteered that I would rather belong to a society that was known for frequent apologizing than a society that was known to be rude and abrasive.

  • I’m sorry as a filler (similar to you know, eh, like) hasn’t any meaning. It only weakens one’s speech.

  • I’m sorry without sincerity, without a genuine apologetic tone, is meaningless.

  • My bad does not equal an apology. Own your mistake. Say I am sorry.

Thank you Jennifer for a delightful interview. It was a pleasure meeting you. I’m hoping you score an A+ on this one. I’m sorry if you don’t.

With 4th year journalism student Jennifer Turnbull.

With 4th year journalism student Jennifer Turnbull.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think Canadians over-apologize? Is the sincere apology disappearing?

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About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
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2 Responses to I’m Sorry

  1. Gaye says:

    I agree with all those points. Coming from New Zealand I have always found it interesting that canadians always say “you’re welcome” after someone says “Thank you”. Sometimes we do things because we HAVE to, not necessarily by choice….. Is there a time when we don’t have to you are welcome. Just a thought that has crossed my mind once or twice

    • Cultural differences can be fun, confusing, or sometimes, embarrassing.
      Most of the time we respond to “thank you” with “you’re welcome.” There are times when “you’re welcome” may not seem the right expression but then we often use another nice term. An example: “Thank you for coming to Fred’s retirement party”. Response could be “We wouldn’t have missed it.”
      Thank you for your comments Gaye.

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