The Art of Not Saying “Sorry”

Posted In: Soft Skills
Posted On: 2/23/2016

The Art of Not Saying “Sorry”

Hey, it’s not just women who say “sorry” a lot!  Check out this great Amy Schumer interview with two UK guys.

But regardless of man or woman, Brit or American, using “sorry” as any kind of introduction totally negates anything you are about to say.  It puts you in a weak position because you are immediately apologizing for something.  And when we apologize, doesn’t that mean we have done something wrong?stop saying sorry at work, soft skills for college grads, career advice for college grads

Don’t be that person! Only say you are sorry when you have something to apologize for!

Read on for a few ideas on how to get that sorry person out of your system!

Sorry to bother you, but can I ask you something?

Sorry that I don’t know the answer to that question.

Sorry that I did not get the project done on time.

Read each of those sentences a couple of times.  I immediately feel like the person saying them has done something wrong. 
But have they? Now read these sentences:

Hi, I need to ask you a quick question about the upcoming meeting.

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I can find out.

I am a bit behind on the project, but I plan to finish it this week.

The differences might be subtle, but they are important subtleties.   Instead of starting with the “sorry,” you are instead being direct about what you want and what you are going to do next.  I think “action” versus “apology” when I read the same sentences done a bit differently.

So how do you avoid the "sorry?”

First, pay attention to when you use that word.  Is it always with the same people, perhaps folks that intimidate you a bit?  Realizing you are saying it is half the battle.

Second, if you do indeed find yourself saying “sorry” a lot, make sure you consciously think about how you will avoid it.  I know it sounds like a lot of work to prepare some of your responses in advance, but “sorry” is just like any other bad habit that needs to be broken!

Third, always try to think about action words when you are responding to someone.  What is the next step that you plan to do?  This is actually a good practice, even if you are not a sorry addict!

Finally, use your WOW (What Obviously Works) journal to document interactions done well.  As with all things that you are doing great, it really helps to keep writing them down and reinforcing your good practices!

Let’s leave sorry behind!