The other day I was part of a meeting with a handful of presenters. In the audience was mostly IT folks, 80% were men. For the record, no one was in a suit.
One lady, towards the back, sitting away from everyone else who was seated in rows of tables had, at least, one question for each speaker. Questions are almost always a good thing – it shows you’re engaged and listening – always appreciated by a presenter.
Every time she started her question, I cringed.
Not because she had a question, questions are cool - it was how she started off.
“Sorry, I have a question…”
“I have a question – sorry!”
The world wants you to stop apologizing and stop saying you’re sorry.
For the love of all things good and holy and wonderful - stop apologizing for nothing!
Listen, ladies, I’m Canadian and I don’t even say sorry that much.
Soar-eeeeeeeee (Canadian translation).
Yes, I’m talking to you ladies. Because in the course of my day, men almost never say they’re sorry. Can you remember the last time a man apologized? Especially for something like – HAVING A QUESTION. Though, some of these men maybe should – another topic for another day.
The incessant apologizing of course, doesn’t always apply to question-asking.
Here’s how these scenes play out:
- Someone opens a door on the other side when you’re about to go through – sorry!
- Someone is in your way – sorry!
- Someone accidentally bumps you – sorry!
- I don’t agree with you – sorry!
- I have feedback – sorry!
- I can’t do the thing / go to the event / help you – sorry!
Girls, stop apologizing.
First, are you really sorry? Should you be sorry that someone else opened the door at the same time as you? NO! It’s not your fault.
Did you do something wrong?
Did you do something to hurt me?
Unless you just cracked me on the skull - sorry!
If you did, by all means, say you’re sorry (soar-eeee).
Let’s go a little further and look at a definition.
Feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune.
In a poor or pitiful state or condition.
If you didn’t do anything wrong, and unless you truly pity the condition of someone, ‘sorry’ can easily be swapped with this:
Simple, elegant and still perfectly unfussy and polite.
Ladies – disagreeing, not having time, having an opinion, opening a door like a synchronistic swimmer, all very good reasons to NOT say you’re sorry.
How would you feel if this post was titled: ‘Sorry ladies, but you really should stop apologizing.’?
Why should you stop?
Starting a statement, any statement, with an apology instantly lowers your credibility and fogs up your message.
We can’t focus on what you’re saying because we’re too busy being on the receiving end of your misplaced sympathy. Why is she sorry? What did she do? Should I be angry?
Oh, she just reached for the salt the same time as me.
Your homework. How many times did someone apologize to you today? I’d love to hear your insights. You can email me here.
PS - why we're all waiting for you to stop complaining about work and how to talk to your kids about your job