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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Is It Time To Stop Saying I'm Sorry?

There has been a buzz growing about the negative impact of saying "I'm sorry". Folks contend that it holds back career success, prevents stronger relationships and makes the person saying it appear weaker. As opposed to saying "I apologize", the phrasing of "I'm sorry" suggests you are claiming first-hand that you are a sorry human-being. In researching this phenomenon, I read about a study published in Psychology Science that had men and women journal how often they committed an offense as well as whether or not they subsequently offered an apology, which reported women committing more offenses and offering more apologies than men.

As I studied this, I became acutely aware of each time I used the phrase of "I'm sorry". Whether it was bumping against someone walking through a doorway, because I'd missed the other person's call due to being in a meeting or when I'm running a few minutes late arriving somewhere, I felt a twinge of "I shouldn't have done that" with each iteration. "Oh, no... What will they think of me?!?"

Although I want to be considerate of others, remembering we are all humans who put our pants on one leg at a time and regularly make mistakes, I certainly don't want others to view me as a lesser person due simply to my word choice. Therefore, I've been practicing two new habits: First, I choose carefully when an apology is appropriate or if I should be responding in a different manner. Then, second, I make sure to word each apology as "I apologize" rather than letting "I'm sorry" simply roll off my tongue. There is a distinction between those statements, and I want to make sure I'm conveying the appropriate message.

As I have made these resolutions, I've realized that breaking a bad habit is very difficult. I backslide from time to time, but I'm trying to be kind and understanding with my own shortcomings. I know that changing my words isn't about mind over matter; instead, it means I have to be thinking about it regularly until that thought process is simply inherent to my thinking. That's no easy feat.

I will keep at it, I will get better daily, and I am confident my efforts will make me a better communicator. Meanwhile, I will eagerly await the day that the Google Chrome extension for Just Not Sorry will be expanded to include the Mac Mail application.

Are you aware of how often you say "I"m sorry"? If so, what are your thoughts about that? How does it strike you when you hear someone else use that phrase? Which phrases bother you more?

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