- Posted by Janet Zaretsky
- On February 7, 2017
- 0 Comments
I’m sorry. Simple words. They have a major impact. Sometimes, they are wanted and needed but for most women, they are a costly habit. If you follow around many women, maybe even yourself, you will find women apologizing for nearly everything.
Everything from, “I’m sorry, can you pass the ketchup” to “I’m sorry, my thoughts on that project are…” are simply habits of speaking. This undeserved need to apologize can leave people with an impression that you’re not confident, feel inadequate, and are easy to walk all over, whether you do it at work or in your personal life. In a work situation, this can cost you promotions, responsibility and respect, as well as salary. If you are an independent business owner and set your own fees and you have a habit of apologizing, this habit undermines your confidence and highly likely your fee structure as well as your ability to ask for what you are worth.
Ever wonder why we have this habit and what to do to stop it?
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science, “women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior,” which then has us likely to feel as if we need to apologize in daily situations. We are even prone to apologize as a preamble to being direct such as when stating our opinion or when asking for a raise or a new job or position.
Recently, on “Inside Amy Schumer”, Amy did a sketch that satirically made fun of our propensity to apologize: in the sketch various accomplished women on a panel apologize, first for trivial things like being allergic to caffeine, or for talking over one another, but finally for having the gall to exist in the first place. Funny, yet disturbing.
Beverly Engel, a psychotherapist said “ You’d think that offering apologies too often is like offering too many compliments—it just shows you’re a nice, caring person, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It actually shows that you’re not confident, feel inadequate, and are easy to walk all over, whether you do it at work or in your personal life.”
What is the answer? Stop it. The constant apologizing not only diminishes you, your self-esteem and makes your voice less likely to get heard, but it is time consuming. Imagine if you did not apologize but simply declared your opinion, was straight in your communications and relayed your requests powerfully. Imagine not only how you would change the way others interact with you, but how you would feel about yourself and your own power.
If you tell the truth to yourself- you are not sorry to ask for an email that should have been sent to us weeks ago, or to expect to receive the item we paid for, or to be bumped into on the subway, as examples. You are not sorry your opinion in a meeting matters. You are not sorry that you are asking to be paid what you are worth.
Confident women simply are powerful in their communication. You don’t need to apologize for what you say, what you want, or most of what you automatically apologize for. State what you want, say what you mean with no preamble.
First, you must become aware that you have the habit. Take a week and write down how many times you apologize. Observe yourself. Observe how automatic the behavior is and how it makes you feel once you notice that you are doing it. Once you are aware, you can start to break that habit. Just as apologizing became a habit, you can break that habit and create a new habit of declaring your wants and your opinions.
Julia Child, a consummate charmer, said it best: “Never apologize.” Bravo, Julia!