Author Topic: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?  (Read 7534 times)

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shylar

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'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« on: May 27, 2011, 07:02:16 PM »
Something mentioned in this thread got me thinking.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=96367.0

One of the very first times I posted here concerned a dispute with my sister. I've searched for the thread, and can't find it. It involved her sending me an asbusive email and me replying in part with 'I'm sorry you feel that way'

In my thread, this phrase was picked out as a rude phrase, and one that invalidates the other person's feelings and comes off as a little PA / snarky.

I took it to heart, a little bit. Which means I wasn't hurt, but saw the point of the posters saying that and put it on my 'banned list' of things not to say. It certainly wasn't my intention to come off that way, but I can really see how I did in that context.

In the thread I pointed out above, the same phrase was used - with lots of praise.

This isn't a complaint - I lurk here a lot because I have a problem with impulsive speaking and you ehellions make me do better than I would alone. Honest! But I'm interested in what you think of this phrase, and the contexts which it can be used appropriately.

I am off to dig up my original thread, because it would make this post mean a lot more sense.


MrsJWine

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2011, 07:08:05 PM »
Someone hugely overreacts to some offense the person perhaps didn't even commit, but you do want to express sympathy for their hurt feelings:  Phrase is totally appropriate.  In the link you pointed to, the sister's friend flipped out over something that shouldn't have been an offense in the first place.  The only apology she could make was one of sympathy, where she expressed regret that the person was hurt.  I still think it has the potential to cause further offense, of course, if the other person can't see reason.  But I do think that in this case, it's fine.

Someone is offended over something that is actually offensive:  Phrase is not appropriate.  You want credit for apologizing for your actions, you don't say, "I'm sorry you feel that way."  You say, "I'm sorry I did X."  For instance, if the sister in the link had insulted the friend in front of a bunch of people, then stalked off to catch her ride, she should have apologized for her actions.  In such a case, apologizing for the other person's hurt feelings is essentially blaming the victim.


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Utah

HonorH

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2011, 07:15:14 PM »
I don't think it's necessarily rude. Context is really important. If someone has a legitimate grievance, the phrase is a pretty flip way of brushing off their complaints without actually addressing the grievance. However, if there's nothing you can (or are willing to) do, it can be a way to disengage. So, for example:

Betty: It really upset me when you cancelled our plans because Fred asked you out.
Wilma: Well, I'm sorry you feel that way.

Or:

Betty: I can't believe you wouldn't cancel your date with Fred so you could scrapbook with me! My feelings, they are injured!
Wilma: I'm sorry you feel that way.
William wondered why he always disliked people who said "no offense meant." Maybe it was because they found it easier to say "no offense meant" than actually to refrain from giving offense.

--Terry Pratchett, The Truth

shylar

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2011, 07:17:11 PM »
That does make sense to me.

You know, sometimes I feel like I should come here with a notebook in hand, or never open my mouth until I've had a quick check of these forums first.

I don't think I'm rude, really, just well intentioned and a little ham-fisted.

Ah well, I'll get there.

Thank you.

boxy

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2011, 08:06:39 PM »
Context and tone are hugely important. 

When I've heard "I'm sorry you feel that way" it's always been in the context of "I really don't care how you feel just go away."

It's worse when you say, "I'm sorry IF you feel that way."  Total dismissal.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2011, 08:21:41 PM »
as usual, Mrs. JWine put it beautifully.

immadz

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2011, 08:38:35 PM »
Context and tone are hugely important. 

When I've heard "I'm sorry you feel that way" it's always been in the context of "I really don't care how you feel just go away."

It's worse when you say, "I'm sorry IF you feel that way."  Total dismissal.
I find it dismissive too but for a different reason. Its not so much that I feel that the speaker doesn't care about what I feel, it is that they believe that their actions/inactions did not play a role in my feelings. It seems to negate their culpability while coming off as an apology. If someone breaks their leg by falling off the stairs you could use, " I am sorry for the pain." But if you shoved them down the stairs, you really do need to say " I am sorry my actions are the cause of your pain. I feel remorse."


LilyRose

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 03:00:51 AM »
Is this the thread of yours for which you were looking?


http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=60219.msg1429549#msg1429549

JoieGirl7

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 03:12:24 AM »
I think it is dismissive, but I don't think its rude.
 
Sometime when someone sends you a 3 page letter detailing how you have wronged them their entire life, I think they should be dismissed.

I think the phrase has gotten a bad rap and that whenever someone uses it, there is a knee-jerk reaction to say that its rude.
 
Saying "I'm sorry that won't be possible" is also dismissive.  As is "What an interesting assumption."
 
Dismissive does not equal rude.
 
There are plenty of times "I'm sorry you feel that way" is the only polite thing you can say.
 
And its not dishonest.  Just because someone thinks you owe them an apology doesn't mean that you do.  You can be sorry they feel the way that they do, but not take responsibility for it--especially if you didn't do anything to them!
 

blarg314

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2011, 04:31:54 AM »

I think the basic sentiment behind this phrase is "I don't think I've done anything wrong, and you're making a fuss over nothing, but I obviously have to give *some* sort of apology, so I'll give you one that doesn't admit any guilt or remorse on my part."

Or, in shorter form "I'm sorry you're so touchy, but it's not really my problem."

So yeah, your tend not to get good reactions from people who realize that what they're getting is a non-apology.

Itza

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2011, 09:58:01 AM »
I didn't think I used this phrase and after reading around this forum for the last couple of years, I decided I wouldn't use it too.

However, I was going through old computer files, deciding what to delete, and I found copies of MSN chats I had with a former internet friend who turned out to be a nasty piece of work (though reading many years later, I realised he was very probably NPD but don't quote me on that). Anyway, in this chat he was having a go at me, gas lighting, the works, and I was amazed at how appropriately I responded to all this and seemingly calm without getting angry back although while reading, I felt angry and assumed I was at the time. I raised my eyebrows when I read, "I'm sorry you feel that way" right next to my MSN name! And, you know, it seemed right considering the awful stuff he was writing.

Thank goodness we're no longer friends!




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ShadesOfGrey

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2011, 10:29:35 AM »
That does make sense to me.

You know, sometimes I feel like I should come here with a notebook in hand, or never open my mouth until I've had a quick check of these forums first.

I don't think I'm rude, really, just well intentioned and a little ham-fisted.

Ah well, I'll get there.

Thank you.

We all feel this way sometimes.  That's why we all post here! :)

And, I didnt read  your thread, but I think "I'm sorry you feel that way" may have been perfectly appropriate (if indeed the email was abusive/over-reacting)
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

kherbert05

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2011, 11:56:58 AM »
I've used it but only when the person wanted me to do something that could get me fired.

For example I'm sorry you don't like "Math Curriculum Problem solving homework and want straight computation homework", but the district requires we use it. Feel free to set your own problems for Student.

I'm sorry you would prefer that we take reading grades from AR, but campus policy forbids it because the questions are low level. (Which is why her kid who was failing reading passed AR test - not to mention I caught child cheating 3 times.)


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shylar

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2011, 12:06:21 PM »
You know, at the time I think she was being unreasonable, and my response was the best I could manage at the time - and if I'd have gone into more detail in the original post the replies might have reflected that.

Having said that, reasonable / justified or not, it can come across as a little PA and inflame a situation that doesn't need inflaming - so I'd still be careful about how I used it in future.


MrsJWine

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Re: 'I'm sorry you feel that way' - rude phrase?
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2011, 12:38:58 PM »
Let me put it a different way.  If you're intending it to actually be an apology, it's rude, provoking, and ineffective.  If you actually are sympathetic to the way someone feels, I think you can use it.  It might still be provoking, but I don't think it's rude.


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Utah