As a woman it’s something many of us say so much as if it is a filler word, like “um” – apologizing for bumping into someone, for not holding the door wide enough, for seemingly no reason at all when we call, text, or email someone.
I had a bad habit of saying the phrase, “I am sorry”.
Here’s how I stopped saying it nearly 95% of the time.
Most of the time I said I am sorry when I could say something else.
I thought of alternatives to that phrase that would convey the same spirit of what I meant.
If I physically run into or bump into someone, I now say, “Excuse me”
If I’m late to a phone call or a meeting, I now say, “Thank you for your patience” or “I hadn’t planned on arriving late” (being late is inexcusable in my book, so it’s an easy one for me to feel like I need to say how sorry I am when I am late.)
If my actions cause something dumb or bad to happen, I now say, “I had NO idea that my doing X would make Y happen.”
And then I don’t say “I am sorry.”
Just changing my phrasing for these situations above was HARD. I messed up so many times in the beginning because I was programmed to apologize all day long. My momma (and society) raised me that way.
Now, after many months of practice, I rarely say that I am sorry. I don’t feel sorrow. I feel empowered.
As a woman in the B2B sales world, it is IMPORTANT to feel that you are an equal to your male majority peers – so if I may suggest that ONE way you feel more equal is to STOP SAYING I AM SORRY SO MUCH.
At least, consider cutting down – as I did.
I’m still OK to say that I am sorry when I totally goofed up – and, I’m more thoughtful about how to word it than ever before.
Practice saying to yourself, “Sorry. Not Sorry.”
It won’t make you a bad person to cut down 95% of your “sorrys”. I promise.
Lori Richardson is President of Women Sales Pros and is a reformed “sorry sayer”.
Great post Lori! Something I learned recently to avoid saying: no problem. I say instead, I’m glad I could help.