I haven’t posted in more than a week. I’ve been busy with work, with school starting back up and with extracurricular activities. I would say sorry, but I won’t. It’s my biggest goal for 2016.
My goal for this year is to say “sorry” less. I’ve grown accustomed to throwing out the word too often. I’m certainly not going to stop saying sorry when I make a mistake or bump into someone, but I hope to stop using it frivolously. I don’t want to apologize for the things that I’m not really sorry for.
When I’m running late, I want to stop saying “Sorry for making you wait.” Instead, I’ll say “Thank you for your patience.” When I’m talking, I’ll say “Sorry for rambling.” Instead, I’ll say “Thanks for listening.”
Saying sorry and over-apologizing is a huge problem for women. We’re afraid (or at least I am) of inconveniencing others. Sometimes I’ll use the word as a filler, or worst of all, as a way of beginning a conversation.
“It sets the conversation up at a disadvantage that you don’t need.” –Mika Brzezinski
According to Mika Brzezinski, over-apologizing can ruin an otherwise good conversation. She says, “it sets the conversation up at a disadvantage that you don’t need.” Who wants to begin a conversation in a way that sets you up to lose (especially an important one, like about salary negotiation)? In the C-suite, which is still dominated by men in most cases, saying sorry too often can make others doubt you or feel like they can walk all over you. That’s no way for a #GIRLBOSS to act.
Leaders are looked up to. Always. No matter if you’re a good at your job or not, leaders are made out to be models. People assume that if you’re in charge, you know what you’re doing. No matter how true or untrue this is, as a leader, your biggest job is to help others succeed. An important part of success is being ethical. How can you have a “high standard of personal ethics” if you’re apologizing insincerely all the time?
Saying sorry gives away your power. Women have a lower threshold than men for what they deem offensive, which may explain why we apologize so often. “For so many women, myself included, apologies are inexorably linked with our conception of politeness,” according to Sloane Crosley. This is such an issue that many women don’t even realize that they’re apologizing for things that they couldn’t have helped anyway. I’ve even heard people apologize for being “too wordy” in something I was editing. That’s the whole point of edits!
“For so many women, myself included, apologies are inexorably linked with our conception of politeness. Somehow, as we grew into adults, “sorry” became an entry point to basic affirmative sentences.” –Sloane Crosley
It’s such a problem that it even became the center of attention in one of Pantene’s ad campaigns. With more than one million words in the English language, we’ve got many better words to choose from. And with our feelings and the respect of both ourselves and others on the line, why apologize when we’re not really sorry?
“Sorry” even becomes passive aggressive when we want something done but are afraid of confrontation. Asking your noisy neighbor to turn down their music at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday isn’t mean–it’s a courtesy that they should be extending you. When you knock on their door and say “I’m sorry, would you mind lowering the volume?,” you’re not helping your case. Don’t apologize when you don’t mean it.
Now, I’m not saying that I won’t be sorry when I make a genuine mistake–I will be. In 2016, I don’t want to be “sorry” for asking for something that should have been emailed to me two weeks ago. I don’t want to be sorry when someone who’s not paying attention while walking bumps into me. I won’t be sorry if someone misses a meeting that we scheduled weeks in advance.
I’m not sorry.