Women typically have this tendency to feel guilty too often and quickly become apologetic. I believe that the use of these two simple words, “I’m sorry”, is actually hurting both our personal and professional pursuits. The tendency to apologise is damaging in that it impacts the way we feel about ourselves, influencing our voice and confidence. In the workplace, if you believe in your actions then you need to stand behind them.
We should never weaken our own voice
Apologising for not responding to an email faster, apologising for missing a phone call, sorry for having an actual opinion when in a meeting – worse, starting every sentence with “I’m sorry”.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to over apologise.
Apologising for speaking is like asking for permission to speak at all. It places doubt in the other persons mind about your self-confidence. Saying sorry too often can actually lesson the power of your words. It can water down the effect of an apology when you are actually sorry for your actions. Over apologising sends the message to the people around you that you’re sorry for being you. We should never be sorry for our existence – be thankful for being you, believe in your worth, celebrate who you are with confidence.
One of my favourite quotes is by Melinda Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of the ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’. Melinda says,
“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
Kathy Caprino of Forbes says that over apologising happens with women because we’ve been conditioned to say it more than men. Men aren’t socialised to question themselves incessantly. They don’t see meekness as being more honourable than assertiveness. Men never get called bossy when they lead – they’re ‘strong’ and ‘ambitious’! As part of the US ‘Ban Bossy’ campaign, singer Beyoncé spoke out against the impact this leadership labelling. With a long career of being labelled as ‘bossy’ she responded with: “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss”!
Just stand tall, have self-belief in what you are doing and saying, speak with conviction and the confidence will shine through
When we don’t use these words as part of our daily vocabulary, we command more respect. Just say what you think – no apology necessary. Your voice is your most powerful tool. I challenge you to listen to yourself throughout the day and keep track of how often you either apologise or feel that you should have.
If we value ourselves, we attract people who value us.
Don’t hide your strength behind constant conciliatory statements. Be bold and whatever else you want to be. Cut the path you want to walk in this world using language that lifts you up. Replace “I’m sorry” with “I am… responding to your email regarding…” No apology needed.