Posted in: Woman's Inhumanity to Woman
Published on Dec 04, 2018 by Celia Fernandez
It's Time to Stop Saying I'm Sorry
It could be affecting your confidence.
Think about the last time you said, "I'm sorry." Did you mean it? Did you actually do something to warrant the apology? Or did you just use the phrase because you were filling a silence? If the answer to the last question is yes—and you happen to be a woman— then you're in the majority.
In a 2015 Variety interview with Lily Tomlin, Amy Schumer revealed the one lesson she learned on the set of Trainwreck. "I discovered not to apologize before putting my two cents in," she says. "I noticed I was starting my sentences with 'sorry,' and I cut that out and left the set feeling very empowered."
Schumer isn't alone. According to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo Canada, women apologize more frequently than men because they have a lower threshold for what's considered offensive behavior.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler, psychologist and author of A Politically Incorrect Feminist, explains, "Even if women don't really mean it, they will be quick to apologize, back down, or diplomatically moderate their opinion," she says. "It's because we bond very deeply with others and are sometimes afraid of losing that person. There's also a common fear of being shunned by a clique that we value. To avoid that, we just say 'I'm sorry,' even if we aren't."
Chesler adds that saying "I'm sorry" quickly is also a tactic used to avoid a disagreement. "Women have been taught that we are the peacemakers, so we have to smooth over conflict," she says.
But if you find that you're constantly apologizing as a knee jerk reaction and don't know how to stop, career coach Kathy Caprino suggests that you experiment with being more direct.
Just by reframing your speech, Caprino says, "You'll gain more awareness about what you really feel. You can be polite without apologizing for what you have every right to share." If you say something and preface it with "Sorry, but," she adds, "it completely undermines the power of your statements."
The benefit of skipping the "I'm sorry's" isn't just saving yourself from unnecessary apologies. By becoming more aware of what you're saying, you can get better at expressing yourself, says Chesler. And that will automatically increase your confidence, too.
"When you know your own mind, you develop the habit of standing by your word. Even if it offends someone or risks your reputation in a group, the more you trust your own word, the more you have courage to be who you are and say what you think," she says.
But if you can't imagine yourself suddenly becoming unapologetically outspoken, Anita Bruzzese—author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy: And How to Avoid Them—has an easy solution: Just take an extra second to think before you speak.
"Take a deep breath and relax before you just blurt out 'I'm sorry,'" she says. "Address the specific situation that you're in. Saying 'I'm sorry' all the time is similar to other verbal tics like saying 'like' a lot, or 'you know.' But losing this verbal tic has the power to give you a stronger stance."
"It's just one more way of distancing yourself and putting up an emotional barrier that says 'I'm not a bad person, don't be mad at me.' It puts you in a weaker stance and you don't have to set that tone," Bruzzese explains.
So if you truly owe someone a mea culpa? Apologize away. But being confidently yourself? That's something you should never have to apologize for.
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