Why are Brits always apologising?

Why are Brits always apologising? The latest Yahoo UK podcast looks into the issue (Picture: Getty)

Ever felt like you apologise a bit too much?

You’re not alone. British people have a bit of a reputation for apologising – sometimes unnecessarily.

But why is that we say sorry even when we haven’t done anything wrong?

According to etiquette expert William Hanson, it could also be down to our history, with colonial roots leading to British people generally being a bit apologetic.

Mr Hanson tackled the subject on the latest episode of Yahoo’s podcast Britain Is a Nation Of…, which this week looks at manners.

Brits appear to be quite acutely aware of how much they apologise too, with a  third (31%) of British people feel they say “sorry” too much, versus 23% of Americans.

The podcast includes data from a 2015 YouGov poll that revealed that British people are more likely than their American counterparts to apologise for things that aren’t their fault.

The poll asked people from two of the world’s largest English-speaking countries whether they would say sorry in certain situations and found that Brits are much more likely to say sorry over small things where they’re actually probably more the victim.

A third of British people would apologise for a sneeze, compared to just 22% of Americans, while 36% of Brits would say sorry if someone bumped into them, versus 24% in America.

Listen to the full episode of Britain is a Nation of… below

Mr Hanson said: “I think we Brits, although we’re not quite as polite as we perhaps once were, I think we are still pretty much one of the politest nations – Brits and Canadians. Of course we share a monarch so there might be something to do with that.

“But we still are very conscious of other people and I think maybe it’s conditional.

“Without wanting to get too heavy I think maybe because of the colonial implications in the past we are still almost literally apologising for being there and being British and being in somebody’s way, and actually If someone rams their trolley into the back of your feet it is completely their fault.

“But it’s a nice trait for us to have. I wouldn’t necessarily say we need to get rid of it.”

To hear more unpacking of statistics about British people, listen to the full episode above, or download it on Apple Podcasts, Acast, or Spotify to listen while on the go.