Better Safe Than Sorry: Why You Shouldn’t Apologize in the Presence of Bullies

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A sincere apology and owning up to any error often shows great strength and bravery. It takes a person with integrity to apologize for any wrong doing because few people will admit they are “wrong”.

However, an apology or admission, no matter how sincere or genuine, can also be taken as a sign of weakness in the presence of bullies or anyone who lacks integrity. We all live life on a basis of trial and error. In fact, put another way, life is trial and error and to grow and mature as a person, one must own his/her mistakes and wrong doings. Admitting mistakes and giving a well-deserved apology to someone we have transgressed against is a sign of honor and integrity. Only not to those who lack those qualities!

Yes, you should have an open mind, you should be empathetic, generous and kind but only in the presence of and to the people who reciprocate the same toward you. In the presence of bullies, on the other hand, extending those virtues is next to impossible and can be downright dangerous! Here’s why:

A bully will take your heartfelt apology, turn it against you and steamroll you with it! Because he will only take it as further evidence that he’s right, or worse…that you are a terrible person, clumsy, stupid…take your pick. Your apology or admission will only serve bullies’ plans to assert control over you and keep it. To a bully without a conscience, any apology made by his/her victim only looks like a waving white flag of surrender. Therefore, you must make sure that you’re in a safe environment before extending one. Here are a few examples:

Victim: “I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
Bully: “Damn right you were wrong! Oh, you’re sorry alright…a sorry sack of crap!
Victim: “Hey! What’s your problem? I just apologized!”
Bully: “Screw your apology! Your apology means nothing! You only apologize to cover your own butt!”


When I was a victim of bullying during school, I had a bad habit of over-apologizing, which is all too easy to get into anytime you are a victim of any form of abuse. So, you apologize emphatically, even when an apology isn’t necessary and you do this in order to appease the abuser and avoid being harmed.

I have since learned that with bullies, your apology should be more indirect. I’ll say it again. A direct apology will only make you seem weak to a bully and provide assurance to her that she has power over you! Here are a few examples of indirect apologies and they’re what has worked for me:

“Oh, relax! You’ll be alright.”
“You’ll forget all about this by the end of the day.”
“You’ll get over it.”

The above examples may seem callous, unfeeling and cold. However, it allows you to express empathy without accepting blame. Always remember that bullies lack integrity and a conscience and any of the two shown in the presence of those who don’t have it will be shot down. Apologize, yes! But do it without taking any blame. Do it with POWER!

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