According to an article on Inc.com if you regularly say “I’m sorry you feel that way” or some variation of this phrase, you may lack empathy, because
“you can’t actually be sorry for the way someone else feels. You can only be sorry for your own behavior and the things within your control. You can’t control how someone else feels, so don’t apologize for it.”
More important, however, is that the sentiment behind those words is something along the lines of “Look, I don’t know why you’re being irrational about this. This isn’t my fault, and I think it’s ridiculous that you’re upset with me.” Even if that’s not what you mean, that’s almost always the way it sounds to the person you’re talking to.”
When we tell someone that we are “sorry they feel that way” we are often trying to avoids responsibility for our role in the situation.
Even when those feelings are not a consequence of our actions, they may still be our problem, so instead of offering a fake apology, we could try to help and fix the problem.
Acknowledging the problem and validating the other person’s feelings, without judgment, is the best place to start.
“Sometimes people just need to know that you care enough to hear their frustration, regardless of whether it’s entirely justified.”