Yes, it’s possible to say “I’m sorry” too much.  While it’s good to be courteous, it loses its effectiveness with overuse.  It’s easy to rectify by simply doing the opposite of apologizing.  Be appreciative.

Don’t say “I’m sorry for being late.”  “I’m sorry for messing up.”  Instead, say “Thank you for your patience.”  “Thank you for your understanding.”  Appreciation shifts the focus to a positive and in control atmosphere, as opposed to trying to recover with the use of an apology.

Expanding on both appreciation and apologies strengthens the effects.  “Thank you for your patience.  It really means a lot to me that you were willing to wait.”  Expanding on an apology often seems like trying to find an excuse.  “I’m sorry I’m late.  Every light I hit was red, and I had to go back to get my wallet…”  It’s like digging a hole you can’t climb out of.

Notice the focus in those two examples.  The appreciation focuses on appreciating the person being addressed, while the apology is littered with “I”s and says next to nothing about the other person.

That’s why “I’m sorry” can get so tiresome.  It gives up control by focusing on the mistake that was made.  It makes even less of an impact on others when it’s the “go to” response.  Thanking someone puts the focus on them and keep the conversation in a positive space.

Appreciation has the added benefit of presenting a more confident demeanor.  It shows that even when you’re off guard you’re still in command of the situation.  Giving a specific “thank you” illustrates how observant and thoughtful you are of the other person’s efforts and contributions to the exchange.

“I’m sorry” has its place.  If you hurt your mom’s feelings you’d better be saying you’re sorry.  It’s just not always the right option to go with.  Why don’t you try saying “Thank you” instead a few times and let me know how it works in the comments below.

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