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alternatives to saying sorry at work

#020 |  Why You Should Stop Saying "Sorry" At Work

Mar 04, 2023

You should stop saying sorry at work. Yes!

Women often apologize more than men, even when they have done nothing wrong. This tendency is known as "over-apologizing."

It's not just an hypothesis. Studies have found that women do apologize more than men because they have a lower threshold for what they consider offensive.  (52 percent for men, 61 percent for women) even when an apology isn’t warranted, according to a 2021 survey from Blind.

Over-apologizing  can have negative consequences, particularly in the workplace, as it can lead to a perception of weakness or lack of confidence.


A few reasons why you should stop saying "sorry" too much at work


  •  It can undermine confidence: When you apologize excessively, you give the impression that you are not confident in your abilities. This can make others doubt your competence and can even lead to missed opportunities or promotions.
  • It can diminish authority: If you are constantly apologizing, you may come across as less authoritative and less in control. This can be especially problematic if you are in a leadership position or if you are trying to get promoted.
  • It can create unnecessary stress: Constantly apologizing can be exhausting and create unnecessary stress. It can also be a distraction, taking your focus away from the important tasks at hand.
  • It can perpetuate gender bias: When women apologize excessively, it reinforces the stereotype that they are meek and submissive.


The impact of over-apologizing on your career advancement can be significant  


Apologizing excessively can create a perception that you lack confidence or are unsure of your abilities. This can lead to missed opportunities for advancement, as managers may be less likely to consider you for promotions or high-profile projects.

Additionally, over-apologizing can impact your ability to negotiate effectively. Negotiations require assertiveness and confidence, and if you're constantly apologizing, you may be seen as less confident and less able to advocate for yourself and your needs.

Furthermore, over-apologizing can also impact your ability to build strong relationships with colleagues and clients. It can create a perception of weakness or subservience, which can undermine your credibility and authority.


Alternatives to saying sorry at work


By being mindful of your language and communication style, you can take steps to overcome this tendency and establish yourself as a confident, capable leader in the workplace.


  • Instead of “sorry for the delay,” say “thank you for your patience.”


  • Instead of “sorry to bother you,” say “do you have a moment?” or “Is now a good time to chat?”


  • Instead of “sorry to hear that,” say “that must be hard for you” or “I can only imagine what you’re going through right now.”


  • Instead of “sorry to interrupt” (if you’re sharing ideas in a meeting), say “I’d love to share my ideas with you.”


  • Instead of “sorry for messing that up,” say “thank you for pointing that out, I’ll be more careful next time” or “I take full responsibility for that.”


  • Instead of “sorry for talking so much,” say “thank you for listening.”


  • Instead of “sorry, can we move this meeting?” say “I appreciate your flexibility.”


  • Instead of “sorry, I don’t agree,” say “let’s look at it from another angle.”


  • Instead of “sorry, I can’t make it,” say “thank you for thinking of me! Maybe next time.” 


It's time to establish yourself as the strong and capable leader you were meant to be.


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With your success in mind...Darine 


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