Career coach: Those who apologize too often lose their credibility

Better to think before rushing to say "Sorry".

Better to think before rushing to say “Sorry”.

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Things don’t always go smoothly at work. The forgotten e-mail, the extended deadline, the discussion with the boss that may have been unnecessary – everyone experiences that.

In an effort to make up for the mistake, the words that often do more harm than good slip out of the way: “I’m sorry” or “Sorry”. Sure, it is important to apologize when a serious mistake actually occurs. But there are often good alternatives for these words.

Because anyone who apologizes to every question, every misunderstanding or every change of plan appears insecure. And if you are unsure, you don’t show a lot of respect in the long run.

Here are a few good “I’m sorry” and “Sorry” alternatives that Lindsay Tigar of collected for

Thank you afterwards instead of apologizing beforehand

Lauren McGoodwin, the founder and CEO of Career Contessa, says many introduce their questions to a colleague or manager with the word “sorry”. “We’re not sorry, of course, but it serves as a kind of buffer for the request that we’re about to make. If you start your query with ‘I’m sorry’ it seems like you are unsure of your query – that doesn’t exactly instill the trust of the other person you want them to answer your query quickly and seriously ” she explains.

It then makes more sense to confidently ask the question and then thank you for the answer. Even if you are late for a meeting or have not replied to an e-mail in time, a “thank you” seems more confident than an “apology”. So start your first sentence with “Thank you for your patience…” instead of “Sorry” – and then continue with the meeting or the presentation.

Feeling guilty doesn’t solve a problem – just asking

Business trainer for women entrepreneurs Cait Scudder says women tend to be quick to apologize when a situation becomes uncomfortable or when something in a project doesn’t go as expected overall. So, although often it comes down to a misunderstanding, they take the blame, not a mistake they made.

This can happen in many situations: When the details of a project or the boss’s expectations are unclear, for example. But why should you apologize for asking? Be confident and get all the information you need.

“If you do not understand an assignment, an instruction or an idea suggested by a colleague, employee or supervisor, ask for further explanation. If you reflexively apologize, you subconsciously assume that you are difficult to understand, even though this is rarely the case, ”she says.

Explaining yourself and offering a solution seems competent

Sebena Gill, the CEO of Nature’s Green CBD, encourages her team to say anything but not “I’m sorry” when they go wrong. She herself sets a good example and takes advice from her mother to heart. If she doesn’t meet a deadline, for example, she doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

One way to do the same is to admit that you were wrong, then state your intention, and finally offer an alternative solution for what to do next.

Asking for support shows that you plan realistically

Maybe you’ve taken on something with an ambitious project. Or you got an overview of the assigned work and found that it cannot be done on your own. According to Cait Scudder, there is no harm in accepting additional help from other colleagues – and even asking for them. On the contrary: It shows that you can assess your resources well.

“Often times, when we feel like we’ve taken over a task or project, our first instinct is to apologize and make it a personal failure,” she explains. “Real leaders and thought leaders, on the other hand, do not apologize for their own inadequacy; they think productively about the resources needed to solve a problem – and they have no problem asking for help.”

Your own opinion is never an excuse

No matter how good you are at your job or how much you love your job; Conflicts in the workplace will always arise. The way you deal with obstacles says a lot about your leadership skills.

According to FK Interactive President Cassandra Rosen, it is not wise to apologize for your point of view. In the long term this means that your opinion will not be taken seriously.

Instead, she suggests taking the emotion out of the situation and allowing the other party to take your perspective – without making them feel like they’re wrong. Rosen believes that saying “Let’s get this sorted out” is a confident, team-building statement that helps to dispel tension and establish an open culture of conversation.

This article was published by in March 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.



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