Someone cuts you off as you’re walking down the street “oh, sorry” you automatically say, not evening being able to catch the words as they fall out of your mouth without another thought. You’re in a meeting and you and someone else start talking at the exact time – you stop talking and then say “sorry” as you let them keep talking. You change your order slightly at a restaurant or ask for some sauce to go with your fries – you apologise for it as you ask for it. You’re at the day spa and you want your massage a little firmer, or a little softer – as you ask for the change in pressure, you start your sentence off with “I’m so sorry to ask, but…..”
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
I bet there are a zillion other examples you can come up with of times you step back to allow someone else to step forward. Why? Why do we push ourselves back into the shadows to allow someone else to step forward so regularly? Why is someone else’s commentary always more important than ours? Why is it YOUR fault when someone else cuts you off in the street, walks into you, or bumps into you in a shopping mall, or any other number of examples that you apologise for when it just isn’t your fault – or at the very least, not your fault alone.
At the risk of generalising, but I will [so deal with it] – we, as women are the worst for this! Apologising for taking up space, for speaking at the same time as someone else, for being shoved on a foot path when we already moved out of the way, or apologising for asking someone to help us with something that is actually a part of their job (cue my tomato sauce example above!).
Saying sorry when it is required is not what the issue is. The issue is saying it when it is not required. People who “over-apoligise” may be like that for several reasons including anything from self- confidence issues, to their background or upbringing, anxiety etc. There are absolutely benefits to apologising (and there are people out there who would benefit from swinging this side of the fence a bit more – ya feel me!?) including building trust in relationships and honesty, but it is when we do it all the time out of habit without even considering what, or why we are saying sorry, that is when we belittle ourselves and our own worth.
Are you reading this article going “Hell yes, this is ME??!!”. Then buckle up sister and try these tricks below to get you out of your own way!
- Start counting how often you say it in a day or a week. I mean literally COUNT and track the number of times you say sorry each day. Once you start calling yourself out on it in the form of a tally, you’ll realise how often you are choosing to step back or belittle your own worth unnecessarily. Once you can see it as a number count you may be more invested in doing something about it.
- Say “Thank you” instead of “Sorry” wherever you can – let’s say you did make an error on a document or an email and someone has pointed it out to you. You’d usually say something like “OMG, I’m so sorry”. Or, you could just say “Thank you for pointing that out to me” and then rectify it and move on.
- Consider what triggers you – Do yourself a favour and take 15 minutes or so to stop and reflect on what occasions seem to have you finding yourself saying “sorry” more often than others. See if you can make a list of these times – e.g when someone bumps into you, when you speak at the same time as someone etc. Once you have a greater level of awareness of the times you find yourself doing this, you’ll be able to focus more on not doing it.
- Consider that when you say “sorry” all the time it actually loses credibility for the times you mean it sincerely in a situation that really calls for it. If you are someone who says sorry 5 – 10 times a day, how is someone meant to feel when you say it about something that really matters, or when you really have a reason to say sorry to someone? Saying sorry when we don’t need to can take away from the value of it when we really do owe someone an apology.
- Stop apologising for having a different opinion to someone – Do you ever find yourself saying “sorry, but my opinion is different?!” Don’t belittle the worth of your own opinion – instead say something like “a different lens to take could be….”, or “my opinion differs to yours….”. You have no reason to apologise for having a different opinion to someone. Diversity of opinion and healthy debate is what businesses need more of.
Acknowledging that you may be an “over apologiser” is the first step in stopping it. If you think this might be you and even after putting the above steps in place, you still find yourself doing it on the regular – let me help you. There may be some deeper confidence work we can do together. Book yourself in for one of my free 20-minute coaching consults, and let’s talk.