It’s a well-known fact that women tend to over-apologise. Whether it’s because we see smaller infractions as ‘offensive behaviour’, because we fear being seen as rude or aggressive or simply because we want to please those around us, it’s a problem many of us still face.
And this is especially true when it comes to the workplace. If you think back to the last time you apologised, chances are it was in a professional setting. Did you apologise for a delayed response to an email – even though it wasn’t that late? Add a “sorry to bother you” to the end of an important question? Or ask for forgiveness for a mistake that wasn’t really your fault?
While apologising when you’ve done something wrong is totally OK (and an important part of maintaining relationships in the workplace), apologising outside these situations isn’t just a redundant use of your time – it could have a negative impact on your confidence levels and how others perceive you and your position.
Because of this, finding new ways of expressing yourself at work – that don’t include the word “sorry” – is valuable. And that’s what makes a recent video from the career confidence coach Sam DeMase (@apowermood) so interesting.
The 22-second clip, which was later reposted on the online careers community Girl Boss, showcases four common scenarios where someone might say sorry in the workplace and replaces them with helpful, respectful alternatives.
The video, aptly titled “How to replace the word ‘sorry’ at work like a boss,” suggests switching phrases like “So sorry to bug you” for more confident, self-assured phrases like “Is now a good time for a quick question?”
You can watch the full video for yourself below:
While some of the comments on the video were quick to point out that it’s OK to apologise if you’re late to a meeting (although DeMase’s suggestion works just as well – especially if you’re late through no fault of your own), the point of the video still stands.
As easy as it can seem to say “sorry” when you’re feeling a little anxious or unsure about yourself and your position in the workplace, the words you use can make a big difference to how you feel and how others perceive you – and making a conscious decision to change those words is a great first step towards switching off your people-pleaser instinct and taking up the space you deserve.