Sorry Not Sorry
I’m sorry. Actually, I’m not sorry but I’m apologizing anyway. You walk into a colleague’s office and immediately say’ “sorry to interrupt but do you have a minute.” Someone bumps into you and you apologize to them. You go to your favorite coffee shop and order a bagel with your coffee and it’s burnt. You then return to the counter and explain “I’m sorry but this bagel is burnt.” But stop, why are you apologizing? You didn’t burn the bagel and you didn’t serve the burnt bagel. Someone else at work makes a mistake and you apologize for it even though you had nothing at all to do with it.
Why do we, especially women, do this? Women are socialized from an early age to be nurturing peacekeepers. We don’t want to appear as aggressive or bitchy so we say we are sorry to keep the peace. We apologize to maintain peace and make things right, even if we did nothing wrong. We want to be liked.
“Women know they have to be likable to get ahead. Apologizing is one way to make yourself more accessible and less threatening,” says Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl. “Apologizing is one way of being deemed more likable.”
How does this auto-apologizing affect us in the workplace? It undermines your value. If you don’t value your own worth, then why should others value it? It makes you appear subordinate rather than a leader. Taking ownership of someone else’s mistake does not exactly convey confidence.
How can we stop over apologizing? First be aware of the problem. For the next three days, write down how many times you apologized when you did nothing wrong. Surprising right? It’s amazing how often we apologize and not think of it. It becomes just part of the conversation. So we need to change the conversation. Instead of saying that you are sorry for being late, replace it with ”I appreciate your patience”.
Save apologizes for when you truly are sorry.
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