I have two things that I do when I am super nervous → constantly apologize and giggle like no other. I was so nervous when I first met my boyfriend, that giggled so hard I cried. Yes, it’s that bad.
While I don’t have an immediate fix for my giggling-issues, I have started working on my overly-apologizing issue, primarily because I’ve been called out on it numerous times. One of the first times I realized I did it was during a feminism class in college. Our professor gave us a list of things women say that belittle them, and I was shocked to realize I used absolutely every word on the list (and still use some, because, after all, I am a woman and I don’t think saying one word makes me ‘less than’.)
One of the most recent times was when I was apologizing for being sick. I felt just awful for wrecking the mood at a holiday event by being sooo sick. One of my friends took me by the hand, looked in my eyes and said, “Don’t ever apologize for being sick. Why would you ever apologize for something like that?” Hmm. He had a pretty good point.
So, I’ve spent some time thinking about when I apologize the most out of insecurity, rather out of ownership of doing something wrong. Here’s what I came up with as ‘danger-zones’ where we apologize too much:
When Someone Misunderstands You
Someone not ‘getting’ you can create a pretty awkward environment which can spur the immediate, ‘I’m sorry!’. Don’t say it. It is neither of your faults that there is misunderstanding, and by apologizing for it you are saying that it’s more important for you to explain yourself properly than it is for someone else to take the time to understand you. Both parts are equally important, and apologies are unnecessary on both sides.
When You Are Sick
Being sick creates havoc. Suddenly you are cancelling events, postponing projects, dampening the mood in the room. While you can apologize for last-minute changes, you should never apologize for the fact you are sick. You can’t control that, and it’s not something you’ve ‘done wrong’. Own the fact that you are sick, stay on top of your responsibilities as best as you can, and never feel bad that you are unfortunately dealing with any type of illness.
When You Are In The Midst Of Events Out Of Your Control
As long as you are doing everything in your control to manage the events that are ‘out of your control’, you should never, EVER apologize for the event itself. Take the bull by the horns and do the best you can to be flexible about unexpected circumstances, but don’t take on the blame for them.
[bctt tweet="be flexible about unexpected circumstances, but don’t take on the blame for them."]
When Someone Dislikes Your Work
Your work is your work, and you should never apologize for it. If you didn’t follow specific directions on a creative brief, than maybe, but if you did your best and someone just has a certain opinion about it, accept their opinion but do not say, ‘I’m sorry’. By doing that you are discrediting your work and creative talents.
[bctt tweet="Your work is your work, and you should never apologize for it."]
When Someone Disagrees With You
If you have a personality like mine, then it is often hard to have a conversation with someone that disagrees with you because you just want everyone to agree with you. In fact, you will even apologize just so that person likes you better. Don’t do it → stand by your opinion. It’s yours, and you have a right to express it. However, also remain open-minded and take the other person’s opinion into consideration.
Granted, you will always have legitimate thing to apologize for. As one of my favorite sayings goes, apologizing doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it just means you are valuing your relationship over your ego. However, we have to be aware of times where we overly-apologize and discredit our work, opinions and stance on important issues in life.
Try seeing how many times you inadvertently apologize for things this week. You’ll be surprised!
-Marji J. Sherman