Jackie seemed to apologize all the time, chronically, for everything.
She is a smart and capable person with a brand-new MBA and a lot of energy. She has a million-dollar smile and a big heart.
But these toss-off apologies were hurting Jackie’s credibility – with her team and with her clients.
If Jackie misspoke, she’d say “Sorry, I meant to say…”
If she got flustered she’d say, “I’m sorry, I guess I’m nervous”
If asked a difficult question, she’d begin with “I’m sorry I wasn’t clear…”
If Jackie disagreed with you, she’d say, “I’m sorry to say….”
It went on and on.
We can all agree that it’s honorable to take responsibility when we know we’ve done something wrong. However, the heart of the problem was that for Jackie, “sorry” had become her go-to filler word.
All of these apologies led her audiences to believe that she had low self-esteem. Her lack of confidence made some folks wonder about her competence.
When Jackie and I started working together, she wasn’t aware that she apologized so often. When I gently pointed it out during a coaching session she said, “I’m sorry I do that!”
I laughed. “Did you really just say that?” Jackie smiled and said, “I want to kick that habit.”
And she did! It took some practice, but Jackie has replaced chronic apologies with better choices that signal confidence.
Now instead of opening with “I’m sorry to say…” before making a point, she just SAYS IT – no apology needed.
Jackie and her audiences like it better that way.