Mentorship November 30, 2016
It’s time that women stop apologizing. Sprinkling “sorry” into your conversations has the nasty side effect of undermining your statements, even if you’re dropping major truth bombs. It also sets people up to feel like you’re the “wet blanket” in the conversation, when they should be focused on your personality and witty insights.
Research shows that over-apologizing impacts women more often than men. Although men apologize at the same rate (about 81 percent of the time) when they perceive they have committed a violation, women tend to believe more situations call for an apology. One expert explains to CNN that “sorry” is all about power – or lack thereof. In order to balance this power, women can learn to apologize less (and men can apologize in more situations that women view as offensive).
Of course it’s lovely to be polite and own up to your mistakes, but too often we use the word “sorry” when we really mean something else. Here’s how to recognize when you’re making this mistake and what you should be saying instead.
Women make this mistake all the time. For example, we might share a personal struggle or hardship with a close friend but instead of saying “Thank you for listening and helping me sort through this situation,” we might say something like “Sorry for being such a downer.”
Friends, by definition, should support you through tough times. But continually dropping apologies in the conversation can set them up to feel like the friendship is a chore. Instead of apologizing for your vulnerability, express your appreciation for their time, comfort and sage advice.
Why is it that when we introduce a competing viewpoint, we often feel compelled to start the sentence with “I’m sorry”? It’s your opinion: Own it. You are entitled to share your thoughts in a meeting, with friends or with a romantic partner without apologizing for your perspective.
Next time you feel tempted to say, “Sorry, but I think option B is the right choice,” just state your reasoning without the apology. It’s possible to disagree respectfully without implying your opinion needs mitigation.
READ MORE: Owning That Embarrassing Moment
When you are concerned about the direction a meeting is going, don’t hesitate to express your viewpoint without apology.
If your coworker suggests approaching a project one way, but you spot some serious flaws with that method, you don’t need to say “I’m sorry” before explaining your concerns. If you would like further explanation of their approach, don’t start out by framing your idea as a roadblock using “I’m sorry, but …” Instead, pose a clear question that draw attention to the issue.
It’s ridiculous, but sometimes we tend to frame our own discomfort as an inconvenience to the person making us uncomfortable. For example, have you ever been harassed at a bar by someone invading your personal space? In those times, it may seem like your only available response is “Sorry, but I’m not interested” or “Sorry, could you back up a little?” Why does expressing our boundaries need an apology?
If simply stating “I’m not interested” prompts the person to call you rude or a derogatory term, that’s a huge red flag anyway – so be confident about expressing what you do (or do not) want with polite sincerity but without apology.
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