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Why to stop apologizing at work

Sometimes it’s just an unthought of habit to jump to an apology for even the smallest thing in the workplace. Sometimes, we even jump to apology mode for things that don’t require one. The biggest? I’m sorry for taking up your time!

Apologies like these do nothing to build your reputation in the workplace. At worst, apologizing undermines your confidence and other’s confidence in your ability. At best, apologizing does not add any positive value to the image you’re presenting at work.

Canned or frequent apologies are rarely sincere or situation specific, and instead are just the first thing that happens to pop out of our mouth. It doesn’t generate positive feelings from the other person, instead, they’re often stuck either responding with something like, Oh, it’s no big deal.

It’s time to stop apologizing and instead start appreciating.

For most situations, using appreciation instead of apologies will spin the situation from negative to positive, and maintain your reputation as a confident – and appreciative – colleague.

Here are some examples of the difference between being apologetic and thankful:

I’m really sorry this is late. vs. Thank you so much for being patient in waiting for this, it took a bit longer than expected.

I’m sorry I made this mistake. vs. Thank you so much for pointing my mistake out!

I’m sorry if this upsets anyone, but we need to get our productivity numbers up so can anyone work late this week? vs. I’d really appreciate anyone that could work late this week – we’ll order in dinner and you’ll get overtime.

I’m so sorry to bother you again with all my questions. vs. Thank you so much for being so willing to always help me.

See the difference? By flipping the script and showing thanks and appreciation, you’re making the other person feel good about their contribution. You’re also getting the benefit of changing conversations from negative and remorseful to more positive and upbeat.

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Here’s the other thing: people feel good about helping others and it actually makes you more likable when you ask for help or advice. If you want work colleagues to like and respect you, asking for help and advice can actually do that – it shows that you view them as someone with knowledge and expertise you admire or desire. If you’ve ever had a friend or colleague ask for your thoughts on a subject you consider yourself an expert in, you’ve experienced the high of sharing your knowledge – and probably liked the other person just a bit more because of it.

What are your thoughts?

 

Written by

Elizabeth is the Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at elizabethb@protechfl.com.