This week’s post hits VERY close to home. I come across people who overuse this phrase time and time again. It used to irk me every time I heard it, then I started to hear my clients say this to me, and I would make it a point to coach them through this habit to help them see how this one small phrase is getting in their way at work....
"I'm late, I'm sorry!"
“That shouldn’t have happened, I’m sorry!”
“That’s all my fault, I’m sorry for that”
In the workplace, there are everyday occurrences that can spur the line, “I’m sorry”. What you may not realize, is that by using that phrase, you’ve given your boss and coworkers reason to look down on you. It may seem hard to believe, saying I’m sorry is undermining your credibility and your confidence.
There are two types of work situations where you may find yourself saying (or wanting to say) I’m sorry.
1. When it isn’t really your fault – Say the metro was delayed, your dog ate your powerpoint slides, or maybe you woke up with the biggest migraine this side of town – all of these things are part of LIFE, and not a reflection of your ignorance. For times when life just seems to throw coffee on your white shirt, or a giant puddle before you even step off your curb, this is called life, and it isn’t something you brought upon yourself!
2. When you dropped the ball – If you work on a team, there are going to be times when you are passed a task to complete, and somehow someway you forgot one small detail and the project got delayed. Although you are the one who missed the step, remember that you’re also learning, and not always fully aware of when you make those slipups. Being extra hard on yourself for forgetting doesn’t change the past (but we will save this for another blog post!)
3. When it’s a serious issue that you objectively see – serious workplace issues happen, and by saying “I’m sorry” before you explain what you’ve witnessed, you are taking the hot air out of your balloon. There’s nothing to apologize for when it comes to reporting HR related issues at work!
You may be thinking, well if it’s my fault, I SHOULD apologize for what happened. Not necessarily. Rather than think of apologizing for a mix-up or act of God, turn your mind towards the other person. Instead of saying I’m sorry, say “thank you” to them. Thank them for being understanding or covering you when you needed to run inside and change your shirt with the coffee stain, or when you forgot to add the updated text to the bottom of your report.
By shifting yourself to thank you, you’re the team player- you’re showing that even mistakes deserve some wiggle room. If the roles were reversed, you would be the one understanding of the other person’s predicament – and it’s much easier to be understanding when you know the other person appreciates you.
Take the I’m sorry’s and make the decision to leave them out of the workplace, you’ll feel more confident, happy and build a much stronger team in the long run!