Reflection time. How many times a day do you find yourself apologizing? Now, how many times a day are those apologies unnecessary? Go on, count them up. I’ll wait.
Statistically, the chances are (especially if you’re a woman) extremely high that you’ve apologized needlessly many times over this week.
– You ask someone for a favor and preface the request with “Sorry to ask” or “Hate to bother you” as though your mere presence is an infringement upon your intended audience’s world.
– You finally deign to offer your opinion in a meeting, but lessen the impact of what would have been an invaluable statement by apologizing for disagreeing with someone else – “Sorry, but I think…”.
People focus on the first words you say and their opinion of those words dictates whether they continue to tune in…or not. By saying, “sorry” you’ve deemed yourself to be unqualified before anyone else had a chance to.
Stop that. Stop apologizing for taking up space.
In fact, I dare you to evict the word “sorry” in its various forms from the forefront of your mind. Give it the boot. Intentionally culture the ability to recognize when you’re truly at fault – and when you’re not.
I know, I know. After using the word for so long, it often slips out automatically. A self-effacing word that rolls right off the tongue before we can catch it. A way to make ourselves seem small and unthreatening. A betrayal by our innate desire to be liked by everyone we meet.
And of course, there are so many ways to say “sorry”:
- Using the word “just”. E.g. “I just wanted to ask”. (Put a big red “X” through that word on the chalkboard in your head.)
- Overuse of the word “please”. Read that email again. If you include a “please” make sure it’s only in there one time.
- Phrasing something that should be a statement, as a question. “Put that toy over there?”
- Adding a lilt in your voice at the end of a statement that makes it seem like what you’re saying is optional. (I like to call this, the invisible question mark).
- Over explaining when a simple “No” will do.
If you’re concerned about being “polite” know there are so many other ways to be cordial without apologizing. Don’t make people overlook you because you’re too busy making yourself small.
My friend, you deserve to be here. Speak boldly – even if you turn out to be wrong.
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