Stop Apologizing

career courage product management Sep 01, 2021

I am a women

I am a mom and wife

I work in the world of HR technology

I love to write and blog

I fought cancer

And I say “I am sorry” way too much at work.

I say it all the time.  I noticed it this week when I disagreed with something a leader said.  I started out with “I’m sorry” and then proceeded to why I disagreed.

Why did I do this? As I started to check my behavior, I found that when I was feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable, I used “I’m sorry” as a way to lessen the harshness of disagreeing with someone.  

But saying I”m sorry, I was minimizing my opinions and ideas.

Starting today, International Women's Day, I am going to make it a goal to stop saying “I’m sorry” unnecessarily.

Linguistics professor Deborah Tannen’s research into workplace conversations found that women are more likely to offer apologies than men. When we utter these kinds of apologies, we are participating in what Tannen calls a type of “conversation ritual.” While men want to maintain a power balance, women want to sympathize.

Many women have an impulse to smooth things over, creating an environment full of too many apology-shaped statements. The problem is this minimizes our presence, opinions, and voice.

Here are some options:

  1. Instead of saying..”I am sorry but I need a minute to think about that”Say…”I need a minute to think please”
  2. Instead of saying “I’m sorry but I am going to disagree”.Say…”I respectfully disagree with what you just said and let me tell you why.”

When you find yourself saying “I am sorry” just pause, take a deep breath, and re-start your sentence. Own your voice, your opinions, and your authenticity.

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