People who are quick to apologize but never change their behavior often possess these 12 traits

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“I’m sorry!”

How often have we heard these words by somebody who didn’t mean it and who we knew would do the same thing again very soon?

A lot! 

It’s frustrating and downright bewildering how some folks can be so apologetic but never actually follow up on what they do wrong. 

Why is this? What’s behind it?

And what are the traits that distinguish these quick-apology fakers? Let’s take a look at what to watch out for: 

1) They dodge accountability

Sure, they’re sorry. They’re so, so sorry. 

But they’re not technically responsible. Like, if you look closely, can’t you see that it was actually their friend who caused the root of the problem?

Can’t you see their job is just stressing them out lately and that’s why they got really drunk and started shouting yesterday?

It’s not them, it’s the situation, man. They’re so sorry about what happened and they hope you understand they weren’t really to blame, you know?

“Never admitting that you’re wrong and not taking responsibility for anything negative requires a lot of effort. This is usually characterized by constant denial,” notes Darius Cikanavicius.

2) They take criticism very poorly

Quick-apologizers don’t take well to criticism

Even constructive feedback usually rubs them the wrong way. They don’t want to hear about what they did wrong. 

That’s why they just apologize all the time and say how sorry they are:

They hope it can be a fast-forward button and just erase whatever just happened and lead to them being able to forget all about it. 

Then they do the same thing again. And again.

3) They always have an excuse

As I wrote, quick-apologizers always have an excuse

There’s always a reason why what they did wasn’t their fault or why their lack of action or follow-through wasn’t what they “meant” to happen. 

That may be true, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible. 

At the heart of these excuses is fear and aimlessness. 

Tony Robbins nails it:

“Making excuses can almost always be traced back to one of three reasons: fear, uncertainty or lack of purpose.”

4) They aren’t very self-aware

Those who apologize a lot but don’t do much to actually avoid the same behavior are often lacking in self-awareness

In many cases they “sort of” intend to try not to mess up again. 

But they haven’t done much shadow work or really located their blind spots and worked with them. 

So the next time a temptation comes up or they end up in a similar situation, they end up doing the same thing. 

It’s unfortunate and it can become quite a vicious cycle. 

5) They have an inflated sense of self

Many people believe they are better at certain things than they actually are. 

This inflated sense of self can be harmless and just a bit embarrassing in some cases, but when it impacts actual incompetence and dangerous mistakes on the job or in life, it can be anything but funny. 

Those who frequently apologize but end up repeating the same behaviors often have this issue:

They think they are much better than they are, causing them to miss out on the various ways in which they can actually do with a significant amount of improvement. 

6) They verge towards narcissism

Those who use apologies as a shield often verge toward the narcissistic side

Their inflated sense of themselves and refusal to really grow up and take responsibility are highly frustrating. 

But in their minds they are simply doing what makes sense. And what makes sense to them is looking out for number one and dropping “I’m sorry” without meaning it whenever people complain. 

“Narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them,” explains Jabeen Begum, M.D.

“While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behavior, true narcissists frequently disregard others or their feelings.”

7) They can be manipulative and gaslight

Those who turn to apologies as an excuse and not a real sincere admission often end up engaging in gaslighting and manipulative behavior

When they are called out on repeating similar mistakes and not being truly sorry, they will often start with the accusations:

“You’re too hard one me.”

“Well if you hadn’t X I wouldn’t have Y!”

“That’s what you think, because you’re completely delusional…”

And so on.

8) Their empathy is minimal

Those who apologize rapidly but don’t make real changes to their actions tend to be minimal in their empathy

They can recognize how their actions or mistakes may have harmed others, but they have trouble truly caring about that. 

Insecurity, early childhood scars, or just plain selfishness and privilege have pulled the blinders over their eyes. 

They want to be able to say sorry, move on and forget all about the subject. When they do something similar again, they want to just fast-forward. It’s, like, whatever. At least it is to them. 

9) They keep making the same errors

Now if quick, superficial apologies were the only issue here then this topic wouldn’t be that big of a deal. 

But what makes it a big deal is that people who apologize too rapidly and don’t correct their behavior often have very bad habits. 

They do the same annoying, frustrating and harmful things and try to use their apologies as some kind of get out of jail free card. 

It’s exasperating and completely counterproductive. 

“Sometimes we stick with certain behavior patterns, and repeat our mistakes because of an ‘ego effect’ that compels us to stick with our existing beliefs. 

We are likely to selectively choose the information structures and feedback that help us protect our egos,” notes Pragya Agarwal.

10) They don’t have a big desire to change

Making the same mistakes repeatedly is something many of us have done. So is apologizing too often as a way to not actually face what we’ve done. 

But eventually the desire to really change comes along, right? Right…?

Well, not for everyone. 

For folks who use apologies as a way to not actually change what they do, the desire to truly change is very minimal. 

Sure, they’ll stop picking their nose in public if their wife asks them or stop driving recklessly around school zones when it scares her:

But actually changing something hard like quitting a drinking habit or stopping picking fights over stupid things? That’s very unlikely to change. But they will say sorry a lot. 

11) They have a tendency to blame others

Those who apologize rapidly but don’t usually do much to change often blame others for their mistakes. 

They find it very hard to really take full responsibility for their wrong actions or hurtful behavior, especially if changing it would be quite hard. 

So they focus on how others have negatively impacted their lives or made them in a bad mood, or hurt their finances, or caused them to get angry, or…

You get the idea.

As Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC notes:

“Blaming someone else may make you feel like you’re winning. However, an inability to take responsibility for your actions does not benefit you in the long run.”

This ties into the final point: 

12) They often adopt a victim mentality

We’ve all been victimized at times in life, sometimes badly. 

But for those who cling to the victim mentality it’s more than just a recognition of the pain they’ve been through:

It’s a cudgel to beat others with and a “hall pass” to do what they want. 

They claim that because they have been treated poorly, they can’t really be held responsible for what they do. 

Hence the “I’m so sorry!” has an obvious subtext at all times: “I’m sorry, but as you know when I was a teenager …”

And that’s the marker of a person who ends up hiding from responsibility and uses apologies as a way to actually avoid change instead of trying to improve.

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