I was walking down the street, when a rushing older man just barged into me. He very politely excused himself for that. So I wanted to accept that excuse, but since he could have prevented it from my point of view, I didn't want to express anything along the lines "It is OK".

So, how can I accept an excuse by a stranger in a public setup, without actually expressing that there has not been any problem?

  • @curiousdannii: It isn't. This OP didn't (accidentally) not mention the asperger context, which changes the scope of question so drastically, that I decided to make another post, since editing it here would devalue the validity of the existing answers. So definitely not a dup.
    – dhein
    Jun 28, 2017 at 7:29
  • @dhein I don't think it's valuable having both. If you want to focus on the other, this should be a dupe. Otherwise this is sufficient. Aspeger's isn't really relevant. Jun 28, 2017 at 7:30
  • @curiousdannii: Well I don't care, since the other is the one that satisfyes what I was looking for, but how is this relevant to this beeing a diferent question on its own?
    – dhein
    Jun 28, 2017 at 7:31
  • 2
    I jsut saw the difference with the aspergers and agree there should be a differentiation
    – user57
    Jun 29, 2017 at 2:43

5 Answers 5


"It's ok" doesn't mean "I don't care if people smash into me on the street." It means "I accept your apology and will not continue to hold this against you." Since you are going to walk away and never think of this person again, it's pretty accurate and appropriate.

If it's someone you will see again, and you think they were careless and should know you're not ok with it, you can say something like "I'm sure you didn't mean to, but it really did startle me. Please be more careful in the future." This is best if the person is a peer or you are above them. It's rude to someone above you. It's just pointless to a stranger on the street.

  • 5
    Ah, so "Its OK" is to be understood as a "Its OK for me" and not as I did as an "Everything is OK"?
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:22
  • 1
    Still not completly satisfying me, but at least I udnerstand now Why its even been said.
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:23
  • 3
    @dhein I hope this is helpful. I agree with Kate completely. If this explanation of what "it's ok" means works for you, that's great.
    – Catija
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:06

There are a lot of "good" reasons this may have happened. He may be really distracted by bad news (or good news). There are a lot of reasons that people may not be paying enough attention to their walking.

My advice: unless you are sure it was malicious, assume he had a reason to not be paying enough attention. So politeness is definitely called for. Accept the apology. If you feel compelled to say something further, make sure it is constructive, not insulting, and not self-serving. For example: "OK. We should be more careful."


In those situations where I don't want express something with words, I just stay quiet (sometimes, with my eyes closed) and move my head in a affirmative way (Nod) = like say "yes" with your head1

1 Not so fast "as is shown in the link", but I hope you understand.


There's no reason not to be polite, and you don't lose anything by saying "it's OK". This isn't some kind of enemy who might attack you if you show signs of weakness; it's just a guy on the street, so why not just accept his apology and make him feel better?

In fact, if you're in Britain, go even further and apologise right back to him, even if it wasn't your fault. (I realise this might be considered strange or excessively polite in other cultures, but you haven't stated in your question where this happened, and I include it anyway to show you just how far some cultures will go in being polite even when it isn't strictly 'deserved'.)

  • As said, this actually presumes I'm willing to acept that excuse. But saying "It is Ok" implys there wouldn't ahve been a reason to excuse, since its ok. And I dont want to lie, but politely accept the excuse, without implying mroe than that. Thats why I feel uncomfortable with saying "It's ok" Whats by the way why this is asking for an alternate to saying its ok.
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:56
  • 2
    You're being too pedantic. Saying "it's OK" doesn't mean "it was fine, so you didn't need to apologise" - it's just a standard polite way of saying "apology accepted, no hard feelings". Jun 27, 2017 at 17:57
  • interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/q/16/32 Trying to set down what this site is supposed to be about :)
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:21

It can be done in both ways but according to the situation.

IF it is a small issue and also it was an old man, he may did it unknowingly.

So, if you, instead of just "it's ok", express something, he will be happy because some old people will keep things in mind for days and sometimes for months.

If you simply say "It's ok" it may make them feel sad(sometimes. not all the times)

So, it will be a good public behaviour just by smiling at him and say "It's ok, no problem."

But if you don't want to express it, either didn't mind it and walk away or simply say "It's ok" in a harsh voice and walk away.

  • by old I meant just older then me, so he probably was somewhere in ebtween 50~60. sry for that confusion.
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:43
  • I thought more about saying somethign like "Thanks". But not sure if that just cause confusion.
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:44
  • Thanks is not fair. You can smile and say no prob. it's ok
    – Sagar VD
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:44
  • But thats actually What I don't want to say, because it wasn't ok for me. I appreiate that he excused for it and dont want to create any unfair situation. but it simply wasnt ok for me, so I dont want to express the opposite.
    – dhein
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:46
  • 1
    just give a look at him in which he should think that you didn't liked it but don't want to express it.
    – Sagar VD
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:51

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