Wikipedia:I am sorry you feel...
|This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
When the reply to a complaint contains the phrase I am sorry you feel..., the reply is seldom an apology. I am sorry you feel... is an expression of self-justification. The subtext message it conveys is what I did is perfectly fine; your reaction is inappropriate. Responses that begin this way usually segue to attempts at amateur psychology that insinuate cognitive dysfunction in the person who complained, and express pity.
I am sorry you feel... can be counterproductive because it frequently communicates condescension and insincerity.
A better way to respond to complaints, when no actual regret is felt, is to answer in a polite but clear manner that respects the basic intelligence and perspective of the other person.
The advice contained in this page applies mainly to cases when an apology should really have been offered. It does not necessarily preclude expressions of sympathy phrased this way, in which the speaker doesn't actually have anything to apologize for. Some (but not all) authors consider however that trying to convey sympathy or empathy using this expression is a faux pas because the expression can be interpreted as carrying a hidden message laying some blame on the recipient (i.e. "sorry you feel that way [... but it's really your own fault]"). A similar but less controversial way of expressing empathy would be "I [can] understand/see why you feel that way". (See the literature section for various viewpoints.)
While genuine expressions of empathy may be communicated using expressions such as these, they can also be used for a more subtle effect on communication known as fogging, meaning that they let criticism "pass through" the speaker (irrespective of whether the speaker should be apportioned some blame), usually ending that particular direction of the conversation. Some communication books advise for example the use such tactics when an employee belonging to a large organization is communicating some policy issue or a matter of fact that the employee himself has little power to change. That kind of situation may be encountered in Wikipedia when an admin applies a policy that may seem harsh but has some kind of bright line provision, or when a software or policy feature is found irritating by the community but is mandated by the Wikimedia Foundation.
- diffusion of responsibility and Little Eichmanns
- Non-apology apology
- Wikipedia:Get over it
- Marie M. Stewart (1971). Business English and communication (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill. p. 501.
- Manuel J. Smith (1975). When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. Batam Books. ISBN 978-0-307-78544-2. This is the classic reference for fogging; it's defined on pp. 104-115 but there are many more examples throughout the book, flagged as such.
- Brent Q. Hafen; Kathryn J. Frandsen (1985). Psychological Emergencies & Crisis Intervention: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Personnel. Morton Publishing Company. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-89582-139-3.
- C. Robert Patty; Robert E. Hite (1988). Managing salespeople. Prentice-Hall. p. 418. ISBN 978-0-13-547464-8.
- Sarah Sutton (2006). Say It with Confidence. BBC Active (imprint of Pearson Education). p. 96. ISBN 978-0-563-52000-9.
- Vicki D. Lachman (2009). Ethical Challenges in Health Care: Developing Your Moral Compass. Springer. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-0-8261-1089-3.
- Michelle Smith with Rita Chandler (2009). Life with Toddlers: 3 Simple Strategies to Ease the Struggle and Raise Happy, Healthy Toddlers (2nd ed.). Michelle Smith. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1-4495-4625-0.
- Kelley Robertson (2010). The Secrets of Power Selling: 101 Tips to Help You Improve Your Sales Results. John Wiley and Sons. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-470-67534-2.
- Diane Berenbaum; Tom Larkin (2011). How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC. Jossey-Bass (an imprint of Wiley). pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-118-04735-4.
- Alice MacLachlan; Allen Speight (2012). Justice, Responsibility and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict. Springer. p. 196. ISBN 978-94-007-5201-6.
- Melissa Petro (19 March 2012). "“I'm Sorry You Feel That Way” Fauxpology Not Accepted". XoJane.
- Julia Wood (2013). Communication Mosaics: An Introduction to the Field of Communication (7th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 140. ISBN 1-285-41519-1.
- Isabel Spellman; Lisa Lutz (2013). Isabel Spellman's Guide to Etiquette: What is Wrong with You People. Simon & Schuster. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4767-4141-3.
- Laura Beck (8 March 2013). "Sorry Not Sorry: How to Non-Apologize". Jezebel.