My least favorite word is: “Sorry”. Not because it means something unpleasant has happened. Not because it means there is stress between you and (possibly) a loved one. But because it has been my experience that people only say this word when they want to make themselves not feel guilty about the situation any longer. They are not saying it to help you deal with, or overcome the situation that they have played a part in bringing about. That is what actions do. That is what sincerity does.
When someone says, “Sorry,” and just keeps walking, it has the same effect as someone who says, “Sorry,” and continues to look at me in a pleading manner. It means the same thing to me. It means you are pleading for me to rid you of any guilt in the situation. You are giving me more power than I have. I am not responsible for another person’s emotions in this way. You must deal with your own feelings of guilt, but it would be great if you could look past yourself for a moment and perhaps help untangle a mess you have brought on.
In this way, I am much more impressed when a person stops, sincerely expresses grievance over causing an unpleasant situation, and then works to correct it.
Of course, this scenario is two fold. The person is not responsible for “fixing” my emotions that the situation has brought on. Rather, I see them responsible for helping to fix the tangible consequences of their behavior.
For example, say you’re at the grocery store and have just bought some juice in a glass container. You continue on your way when, suddenly, someone comes dashing down the aisle, not looking where they are going, and runs into you. You drop your juice and it breaks. You have already paid for this item, so which would be more acceptable to you? Someone simply saying they are “sorry” and then continuing on their way (or even sticking around to explain their inappropriate behavior).. or someone who pays the difference of the juice.
This is why I dislike the word “sorry”. People use it as an easy out to excuse their behavior and do nothing to help fix tangible consequences from such behavior, nor do they tend to prevent the behavior in the future. They just keep saying, “Sorry.”