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More and more people are apologizing at work. Not expressing regret for actual violations of policy or even the human code, but saying “I’m sorry” as a way to start a sentence, such as “I’m sorry for missing that;” “I’m sorry for taking too long.” “I’m sorry to disagree.”
Well, we are sorry we are not taking you seriously because you are constantly apologizing for being you. That’s ridiculous. McGuigan (2015) says being overly concerned about pleasing people or not disappointing others can hinder your reputation as a serious leader or professional contributor. Authentic and courageous leaders make don’t apologize for their point of view or their values. They use apologies sparingly and meaningfully. They will say, “I’m sorry I missed that deadline. It won’t happen again.” Then it doesn’t.
Authentic and courageous leaders do not make “sorry” part of their regular vocabulary. When “I’m sorry” becomes a regular part of your speech pattern, it loses its value. Honestly, uttering I’m sorry” without any intention of actually being sorry and taking actions to change those things leads everyone around you to believe that you’re NOT sorry and NOT going to change. It becomes part of a larger behavior set of apathy and using “I’m sorry” as an excuse. That apathy becomes the norm and leads to an environment in which non-compliance becomes acceptable.
You lose credibility and trust with your co-workers, supervisors and organization. You know who else doesn’t care about “I’m sorry”? Regulatory bodies, state and federal government agencies, the Attorney General, OCR, and on and on. We’re sorry you didn’t know that. “I’m sorry” only matters if followed by a plan of action to correct the issue.
Being aware of making changes to your speech patterns and habits is difficult and takes constant vigilance. Have you ever tried to like, get a teenager to like, stop saying “like” every third word? It’s like ridiculous, yo. Yes, these changes will feel like your operating system is undergoing an upgrade. Like your routine is disrupted and you are like hemorrhaging intelligence as you are trying to figure it out. But you’re good in a couple weeks, loving your new patterns and routines like you loved your old ones, as your perception changes in the work environment.
Make the upgrades and do it being unapologetically you.
John & Jenn: getting rid of #sorrynotsorry in our lives and organizations once and for all.
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McGuigan, K. (2017). The Courage Coach. February 2017, Volume XV
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