We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably done it ourselves. There’s even a Pantene commercial about it.
A woman apologizing for absolutely nothing she has to be sorry for.
For sharing an idea at work. For needing help. For being busy. For stating our emotions. For existing on this earth, sometimes it seems.
I recently told a group of women at a speaking engagement that we need to stop apologizing because it decreases the power of our message. That if we as women want to be strong, confident communicators, then we need to stop starting sentences with “I’m sorry, but…”
It’s true. Apologizing for our ideas and emotions decreases their power.
And that’s exactly why we do it.
We’re not taught as women to take up space. To have opinions – and be direct about them. So we apologize to make our opinions more palatable.
Early on we are praised for being perfect, sitting quietly, and following the rules. So we apologize as adults when we’re anything less than perfect.
We learn quickly that part of our value as girls is being cute and likable. So we apologize if we fear we’re being too harsh.
Most of this is totally unconscious.
The good news is once we bring a habit from the unconscious into the conscious, we can change it.
Start by noticing when you say “I’m sorry.” And then substitute phrases to get away from always using those words. Even something as simple as “Pardon me” instead of “I’m sorry” will help to break the habit.
If you stop apologizing your communication will be stronger. Most of the time most people will react well to this. Your message will be clear and your ideas heard.
But the reality is that others will say you’re too direct. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten that feedback.) They’ll be taken aback by your confidence. By the strength of your message.
And that’s okay.
Because if you put yourself out there, take a chance, and share your bold ideas, you will sometimes get criticized.
You just don’t have to apologize for it.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.