Wikipedia:I am sorry you feel...

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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.

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