May 3, 2023

How to Stop Apologizing at Work and What to Say Instead

Do you tend to over-apologize at work? Does your work email, message, or talk always include "Sorry" in the sentence? Although it's considered respectful to recognize your mistake and apologize, in most cases, we say "Sorry" too often and when our colleagues don't wait for our apology at all.

When we tend to over-apologize, we lose the respect of others and lower our own self-esteem. In the worst-case scenario, we make our future sincere apologies sound less impactful, as we already said "Sorry" too many times. Does it sound familiar to you? Then read on to understand how to stop apologizing at work and tell a more suitable alternative.

Let’s start with why

Our apologies are directly connected with our self-confidence. Although many women become more self-aware and understand that confidence is a must-have, statistically speaking, women are less confident than men. Remember the last time you heard "Sorry" from your male colleague? Most probably you won't remember any occasion at all. And it's all connected with our self-esteem.

Men often believe in what they do, and they stand strong with their principles. On the other hand, women are more adaptable and emotional; however, it doesn't always benefit us. We should remember the difference between the sincere apology when we said or did something wrong and the apology that we tend to say automatically during situations that don't require "Sorry." The second unfortunately destroys the respect of others and lowers our position at work.

Think of all the conversations at work when you said, "Sorry." And think whether these really required your apology. In most cases, we apologize for the late reply or for asking a question; however, all these situations are understandable for your colleagues. And by over-apologizing, we show that we are not sure about our position at work, and we don't value the free time dedicated solely to ourselves, family, and friends.

The ultimate benefits

But what if you stop saying "Sorry"? No, the world and your workplace won't collapse. On the contrary, you'll only see benefits around you. As mentioned above, when we over-apologize, we disregard our personality, ideas, and position at work. We lose respect, and in the end, our apology means nothing.

However, when we stay strong with our values and respect our time, our replies automatically change. We are no longer sorry for replying in the morning instead of late because our family time is a priority. And we are not sorry for interrupting our colleagues; instead, we value our input and respectfully deliver our ideas to the table.

Replacing your apology

There are many examples of how you can replace an apology with a more meaningful word or sentence. Rather than apologizing to your colleagues for asking a question, remind them how knowledgeable they are and if they have a minute to provide you with feedback. Instead of saying "Sorry" that you didn't have time to prepare a presentation, get straight to the next step and suggest your solution of drawing your presentation on the whiteboard or getting it ready for the next meeting. No matter the situation, better clarify your reasons or offer solutions straight away rather than say "Sorry."

Try to change:
  • "I'm sorry for the late reply" to "Thank you for your patience"
  • "I'm sorry to interrupt you" to "That's an interesting idea! And I would add…"
  • "I'm sorry for the typo" to "Thank you for pointing this out"
Next time you're about to say "Sorry" - don't. You shouldn't apologize for having your opinion, your ideas, or your uninterrupted family time. Respect yourself and stick to your values. And others will do the same!

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