When we do something wrong, it’s good to apologize. We should all recognize when we have upset or annoyed others. However, what do we say when our apologies are dismissed? Today, we’ll look at 20 of the best responses to “Don’t be sorry”. Use them wisely.
What Does It Mean When People Say “Don’t Be Sorry”?
Usually, “don’t be sorry” means you have just apologized for something you should not be sorry for. It’s often a polite way of saying, “whilst I appreciate the apology, it is not necessary”. Either because it isn’t your fault, or it doesn’t matter.
It’s better to apologize when there is no need to than to not apologize when we should. Sometimes, we apologize for things that are not even our fault. For example, you might apologize that you cannot come to work because the roads are closed. This is not your fault, but many of us will feel obliged to apologize anyway.
We can also apologize for things that don’t matter. So I may apologize for not watching a football match with my friends. Most of them will not mind that I’ll miss this game. But it’s still natural to apologize for it.
Another time you might unnecessarily apologize is when you’re working in a shop or cafe, and you don’t have what a customer wants. Most of the time, the customer does not care. But you feel the need to apologize anyway.
“Don’t be sorry” lets the other person know we are not annoyed, or we understand it isn’t their fault.
Best Responses When Someone Says “Don’t Be Sorry”
1. I’m Sorry. I’m Canadian, I Can’t Help But Apologize
This one only works if you actually are Canadian. Or at least have a parent who is. Stereotypically, Canadians apologize a lot over everything. Instead of acting like you are sorry, make it seem like you are genetically compelled to apologize for everything.
You could also replace “Canadian” with “British”, and the joke would still stand.
2. Don’t Worry, I’m Not
Sometimes we apologize because we’re sorry. Other times, we apologize because we feel like the other person expects us to. So, when they reveal that they do not wish for us to be sorry, we can let them know the truth.
The blunt reality is, you’re not sorry. You feel no regret for what you’ve done. And the sooner you can be honest, the better you’re going to feel.
3. Nah, I Think I Should Be
In their eyes, you shouldn’t be sorry. Perhaps they don’t think of it as a big deal. Maybe they are used to being treated like this. They don’t expect other people to be sorry.
But, you know better. And you want them to know that what you did was wrong, and you want to make it up to them.
4. I’m Only A Little Bit Sorry If That Makes It Better
“Sorry” is on a spectrum. You can be a little bit sorry, where you feel a bit bad. Or you can be devastated and want to dedicate your life to making amends.
Our “sorry” will be closer to the former most of the time.
Just because you are sorry, that does not mean you are over-reacting. Sure, you might not have killed anyone. But you have made someone upset, and for that, you are sorry.
5. Sorry! Eurgh! Sorry! Wait No!
This one is funny. You are apologizing for being sorry. And then realizing the absurdity of that. This one works best when they are not cross with you.
Because you cannot apologize for being sorry without contracting yourself. And trying will just come across as clumsy. But, if you do it on purpose, it can be funny.
6. Thank You For Understanding
One of the best ways we can get along with people is to understand their point of view. Of course, this is often easier said than done.
But, when someone does understand why we did what we did and why we are sorry for it, we should take a moment to appreciate this. Surely you can understand that they have taken some effort for you?
7. Thanks For Your Forgiveness
When people say “don’t be sorry”, they sometimes mean “I forgive you”.
It’s not that you shouldn’t be sorry. It’s just that this person can look past your mistake and forgive you. When this happens, you should show some gratitude for their forgiveness.
They have put their pride aside by forgiving you to make things work between you. And that indeed says something positive about their character.
8. Why Shouldn’t I Be?
Perhaps you two disagree. Or maybe you just want to annoy them because it’s funny. Either way, this one is a great response.
Try getting them to explain why you shouldn’t be sorry. If they feel you have done nothing worth apologizing for, try making them get to the bottom of why you should not be sorry.
Most people will just laugh or fumble for an answer.
9. I Know I Shouldn’t Be. But I Just Can’t Help It Sometimes.
There will be times in life when we shouldn’t be sorry. And we know that being sorry will bring us nothing beneficial. But, that doesn’t mean much, as we can’t always help it.
Some people act like they’re not sorry. Other people act like they should be sorry.
But, a better option would be to admit that you shouldn’t be sorry. But acknowledge that you can’t help it. This provides both honesty and self-reflection.
10. No, I’m Sorry For Having So Much Swag
Be careful with this one, and only use it when you know the other person will find it funny. They might think you’re apologizing because of what you’ve done. In reality, you’re apologizing because the amount of swag you have is so crazy that you’re not always able to hold it in.
11. No, I’m Sorry That You’re Such A Good Head
Much like the previous reply, this one only works if you know the other person has a similar sense of humor. The joke here is that they might think you’re sorry for annoying them. But, whilst you are sorry, what you’re sorry for is that they are a doodoo head.
Although it’s not your fault. You can’t help but feel sorry for them.
12. I’m Not Sorry, I’m Fred
This one takes the phrase “I am” and flips its meaning. They tell you not to be sorry, but they don’t need to because “sorry” is not your name. That would be a stupid name anyway.
Feel free to change “Fred” to whatever your name is.
A joke about the English language should never go amiss.
13. I’m Not Sorry. I’m Human
This option is remarkably similar to the previous reply. In both, we are making a joke around the English language by playing around with and intentionally misunderstanding what “I am” means.
Usually, the “I am” in “I am sorry” is about what you feel. But, here, you’re interpreting it as meaning what you are.
You are not sorry because there is no such creature as a “sorry”. You are just a plain old human being.
14. It’ll Stop In Five Minutes
Often when we’re sorry, it’s momentary, and it probably won’t last forever. In fact, it won’t last more than a few minutes a lot of the time. Let the other person know that although you are sorry right now, that does not mean it will be a burden on your life.
All they have to do is wait a few minutes, and you won’t be sorry anymore. You can then get back to making the same mistake again.
15. I’m Not. But That’s Just The Polite Thing To Say
There is no point denying it, so you might as well just be honest. You are not sorry. They know you’re not sorry. And trying to pretend like you are sorry will not benefit anyone.
Just because you apologized out of politeness does not mean you’re under any obligation to continue being polite. Because once the cover has been blown, there is no need to continue pretending to be sorry.
16. But If I’m Not Sorry, Who Else Will Be?
Maybe what happened wasn’t your fault. But, the person whose fault it was is not going to apologize. Although it won’t benefit anyone, there is no harm in apologizing on their behalf.
In an ideal world, we would all apologize for our own mistakes. But it can be nice to apologize for other people’s mistakes in the real world. We don’t always say “sorry” when we should.
17. Sorry For Being Sorry
This one is funny. You know that they don’t want you to be sorry. But, the only way to correct your mistake is to apologize. But then you’d be apologizing for apologizing.
May as well play with it and have some fun.
18. It’s Not That I AM Sorry. It’s Just That I’m FEELING Sorry
Sorry is a feeling, not a state of being. You might “feel” sorry, but that does not mean you “are” sorry.
19. Is Being Sorry A Crime?
Even if they don’t want an apology, no law says apologies are illegal.
They don’t want you to be sorry? That’s not an issue.
You may also like: “No Need To Apologize” – Meaning & 11 Better Alternatives
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.