• Michelle Carlen

How To Stop Apologizing At Work

Updated: Feb 4

Do you hear the phrase “I’m sorry” often in the workplace? Do you find yourself apologizing all the time? Commonly, “I’m sorry” is used when someone feels they aren’t sure how else to respond. They might have forgotten to handle something in a timely manner. Or something completely slipped their mind. Pretty innocent, right? So why the knee-jerk reaction? Feeling criticized or offended might be a reason one apologized, however it can display insecurity and a lack willingness to own one’s actions and ultimately power.


So how does someone flip this around to project confidence and action? Here are a few examples of how to respond positively without saying “I’m sorry”.


1) Replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you”.


You’ve missed a deadline for a client. They let you know in no uncertain terms that they are not happy. You can certainly apologize, however, I recommend thanking them for their patience and provide them with an expected time the project can be completed. This can apply too in communications particularly emails where you may have missed responding to someone for days if you were unavailable. Simply state: “thank you for your patience in my response to you”. There is no need to explain yourself or go into any details, acknowledging that they were patient is sufficient.


2) Ask for feedback.


This might be difficult for some to do. When given criticism at work for a project that didn’t meet your client’s or your boss’s expectation, respond by being open. It’s hard not to react emotionally, especially if your feelings are hurt that they didn’t like the work you produced. Instead, pause and ask for open ended feedback on how they think you could have done this differently. Listen and let them know you appreciate the feedback and will do your best to incorporate into the next assignment.


3) Express your opinion positively.


You’re in a meeting (in-person, conference call, or video session), there’s a lot of discussion back and forth and opinions on the topic are flying. You have the urge to express yours. When given the opportunity to, replace the phrase “I’m sorry if this offends anyone” with “what I’m about to share might be controversial”. This allows you to communicate your opinion without apologizing for it.


These tools should help you to effectively communicate with confidence to show your credibility and validity of your work and ultimately the value you bring to the workplace. Watch the entire conversation and dialogue evolve into more meaningful exchange when you implement these quick tips. #leadership #business #communication #businessetiquette #professionaldevelopment #coaching




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