We hear it all the time. Whether at work, out with friends or reading email, the word “sorry” has become the preface and anchor in far too many women’s sentences. Mika Brzezinski, Morning Joe host and founder of the Know Your Value conference, puts it simply: “stop apologizing.” Her theory? When you say you’re sorry, it sets the conversation up at a disadvantage that you don’t need.
So if you’re finding phrases like, “I’m sorry for calling so late” (when it’s only 7pm), or “sorry I didn’t tell you” (when in fact, you just found out yourself), or “sorry to bother you” (when it’s your time to speak) coming out of your mouth, you need to stop this habit now.
Women are pegged as the softer gender, good for when times call for showing empathy, easing difficult situations, and maintain relationships. But what gets discounted is that there’s quite a bit of heavy lifting that goes into doing all that with no return. Instead, women are left to worry whether they did a good enough job, and continue to be seen as the weaker gender. Plus, women’s natural instinct to care and nurture can often lead them down a path where they have no qualms about taking blame for things that they’re not even responsible for.
There are times when “sorry” is fitting — like when you’ve really hurt someone — but using it in all instances and certainly using it more frequently than needed will put you in a position of weakness. Here are the top 5 reasons you should stop using the word “sorry” in your everyday conversations.
It stops people from listening to your main message
If your sentences are peppered with sorry, it shifts the attention away from what you are trying to convey and refocuses it on the repetitive interjections of the word sorry. At the end of the conversation, people come away unsure of what your ultimate message was.
It gives a vibe that you lack confidence
If you are not able to effectively explain why things turned out the way they did because you just continue to apologize for them, you can come across as lacking confidence.
It pegs you as someone who can’t be trusted with important responsibility
This can result in losing out on opportunities to show your abilities, which can then lead to missing out on promotions or salary increases — ultimately negatively impacting your career advancement.
You’re accepting blame for something that wasn’t your fault
This can lead to people taking advantage of you, whether in the workplace or with friendships. Don’t apologize and accept blame for things that you aren’t responsible for just because you are in an uncomfortable position.
It sets a bad example for younger generations
It’s our responsibility to break molds and not teach, even indirectly, bad habits to future generations. It’s important to convey that showing strengths like confidence and ability don’t have to be interpreted as aggressive or “not-a-team-player” traits.
The goals of eliminating gender stereotypes and achieving gender equality are still very, very far away. Taking actions to like making sure you’re heard, exuding confidence, taking on bigger responsibilities and not accepting erroneous blame are crucial steps towards these goals. If you find yourself teetering to the side of using sorry too often or know for a fact you are a clear offender, it’s not too late to change your habits. The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, instead of reaching for “sorry” as the easy way out, take a deep breath, give people the benefit of the doubt, and clearly and effectively express what happened.