There have been a lot of books and blogs lately about making sure you ‘stop apologizing’. The book ‘Girl Stop Apologizing’ by Rachel Hollis and ‘Confidence Creator’ by Heather Monahan are two that I have read recently that highlight the topic. Obviously, in my small view, I am only listing two but there are many more…..but why is this a common theme in leadership books today?
When I grew up, I was always saying ‘sorry’. I remember this so profoundly that it has literally scared me as an adult. I actually say ‘sorry’ now but it is in a different manner. When I say sorry now, I say it out loud as though I am resentful for the ‘sorry’ I am trying to say. Why would I feel this way?
For years I felt as though everything was my fault. So saying sorry was what you did. Sorry for the toast burning, sorry for the dog peeing on the floor, sorry I didn’t call you back early like I said, or sorry that you cut yourself trying to slice an apple. These are all silly and meaningless things right? So why do we say ‘sorry’ for things out of our control? And why do we have to say sorry for everything we do?
In the two books I listed above, they are clear in saying ‘STOP’. We have to stop trying to ‘apologize’ for everything. Whether we are sorry someone else is late, or sorry we are late. We have to shift our thinking to understand why we feel we have to say sorry in the first place. Is it because we are truly sorry? Or is this just a habit we have ingrained in our brains for years because we feel we owe others something?
If we can shift our thinking to realize that we may not have to actually say anything in the moments, that is the first step. We don’t always have to respond to a situation and we especially don’t have to respond if the response is going to be ‘sorry’. We need to start looking at it from an outsiders perspective.
This is what I mean….
When you find yourself in a situation where you may be saying sorry, do these things.
Imagine yourself as the person you are talking to, or wanting to say ‘sorry’ to. If you automatically put your self on defense, they are going to respond in a negative way. If you put yourself on offense, they are going to respond to it in a productive way.
Your Response: “Thank you for waiting for this project to be completed, I wanted to make sure it was right and ready for the presentation”
Their Response: “I appreciated you taking the extra time so we don’t have to redo it.”
I work in the Mortgage Industry….we are working with clients daily that don’t know exactly what the underwriter needs in order for them to get their home. That is why I am there. So I can help facilitate the work and get the job done so the client can get their home but ensuring that the underwriter has the proper information so they can make the best decision.
This takes me, not rushing, not apologizing and focusing on the end goal, not the little things that get in the way every day. When I can take the extra time and submit a file into underwriting that is complete, the outcome is 100 times better than me trying to push the file through and rushing to get the underwriter to figure it out. I may have a loan officer in the office that is frustrated because I didn’t submit the file into underwriting yet, however, I did’t submit the file into underwriting because my verification of employment is only half filled out and if it is half filled out, they may not get their home…. So my response to the loan officer is this. “I know you feel I am not submitting your file and it is frustrating, but I know that if we wait another day, I will have the correct form and the underwriter will have everything they need to approve the file. BOOM. Instead of me saying, ‘Sorry, we are delayed’, I put the truth up front and said why.
The downside to this level of action is making sure you take ownership… is the real reason you haven’t submitted the file yet because you were waiting? Or did you actually not do the work…. That is something you have to work on.
So what can you do today to shift your thinking into ‘Sorry’ mode and into ‘I’m getting it done’ mode? Will it need to be you reading the book Confidence Creator? Or you listing out your ‘why’ behind you being delayed? Or just a shift in mentality from being the victim, to being in control of the situation?
I challenge you today to take the Bull by the Horns and stand up for the things you want to say sorry to, but create a dialogue in your head on the real why behind the sorry. That why is likely a positive thing but your brain is so used to it being a negative, so you say sorry. What can you shift today to have your sorry become ‘I’m on it’, because I know that once you shift your thinking to the offense, you will be a stronger influencer in your work and home. Likewise, if you were to make a mistake, take ownership of the ‘sorry’ you want to say and fix it, get the job done, and move on! No more ‘sorry’ taking place, just a ‘GET IT DONE attitude’.