Be honest – how many times have you said “I’m sorry” today?
Two times, four times, maybe more?
The sad thing is you probably aren’t even aware of how many times you say it.
As women, we’re compulsive qualifiers – we diminish our very value by prefacing our opinions and ideas about them. This has a real effect on perceptions by others. We’re seen as less capable, less confident – and not leader material. Then there’s the reverse girl apology: we apologize when someone else makes the mistake! I’ve actually apologized when someone bumped into me! And, how many times have we apologized unnecessarily when when we spoke up in a meeting?
The list goes on and on.
Of course we all make legitimate mistakes where we really should say “I’m sorry,” but women can go overboard with the apology. More often than not it’s an unconscious habit that invalidates our opinion.
I know you may have seen it already, but Pantene recently created a video called “Not sorry,” as part of a campaign series about women, impact and perceptions. (Even if you’ve seen it, it’s worth another look.)
Did you catch that, by the way? Reread the last paragraph. Did you catch the diminisher – those first nine words? Can you hear how it sounds weak and shaky? As if I’m apologizing for pointing out a video because you may have seen it.
That’s how easily we insert this type of minimizing language into our everyday interactions. Check out the video below – you’ll get it!
“I’m sorry” is just one diminisher women utter that keeps us playing small, instead of showing up as powerful, confident and articulate.
Here’s a list of our most frequently used minimizers:
- I’m sorry
- I didn’t mean to…
- I’m not sure if this is a good idea, but….
- Could someone else weigh in here?
- It’s not quite there yet, but…
- Can I ask a stupid question?
- It’s just….
- I don’t know, but I think that…
Yikes! Any of those sound familiar?
Sometimes, we feel the need to soften our approach, lest we be labeled as bossy, selfish, or pushy.
Here’s the thing – you get to teach people how to treat you. Positives become negatives when genders are flipped, and that’s anything but fair. But, the more we speak with conviction, heart, and confidence, the more others will see us as trustworthy, reliable and capable.
3 P’s to Ditch the Diminishers and Stop Apologizing
Zero in on the pitch of your voice. Women tend to “pitch up,” or uptalk at the end of their sentences, even if they are rock solid in what they’re saying. Ever noticed that? Voice consistency will be key to speaking with certainty – about anything.
We’re uncomfortable with silence, so we fill it with words. This can be interpreted as rambling and make us seem unqualified. Space, when held, can actually be extremely powerful. Make friends with silence; use it to collect your thoughts and gauge the room.
Own your voice! Trust that what you have to say is valuable, because it IS! Don’t let those sabotaging voices take over.
Do you think women apologize too much?