With a grown-up job comes grown-up responsibilities, which means there's an equal chance of proving yourself or messing up big time. But while mistakes are inevitable and owning up to them is important, women in particular can be guilty of over-apologizing in the workplace.
Research tells us that being excessively apologetic isn't doing us any favors. When we apologize unnecessarily — for things that are out of our control, not within our job descriptions or expected skillset, not our fault, or as a way of diffusing tension when we're uncomfortable — it can be perceived as a lack of confidence, or worse, seen as being inauthentic. Obviously, neither is great for your career progression.
It's tough to shake the instinct, though. So when a viral TikTok claimed to provide us with some useful phrases to help ditch the 'S' word, we were all ears.
An alternative to "Sorry I'm late"
For when you're late because you've been legitimately held up, you might rush to use the puppy dog eyes and plead, "so sorry I'm late to this meeting everyone." Sam recommends an alternative of "thanks for waiting for me, I appreciate your patience." This acknowledges that you're taking up people's time, but still gives off the impression that you're on top of things.
An alternative to "Sorry I messed up"
When it comes to owning up to our mistakes, it's easy to slip into profusely apologizing. But where "Sorry, I really messed that up" can make you look inexperienced, something more assertive like "Thanks for the info, I'll be sure to get up-to-speed on that," tells people that you've actually learned from the experience.
An alternative to "Sorry, I'll do better"
If you've received constructive feedback, it's a good idea to thank the person for helping you instead of feeling sorry for yourself. So instead of "Sorry, I promise I'll do it better next time" Sam suggests trying "Thank you for the feedback, I'm on it for next time."
An alternative to "Sorry to bother you"
And when we feel like we're interrupting people, but do need their time, there's no use saying sorry — we're all here to collaborate! Sam suggests replacing "So Sorry to bug you" with "Is now a good time for a quick question?"
Reevaluating our long-held language is easier said than done, so no one expects you to be a 'work talk' expert overnight. What all these alternatives come down to is being confident in your abilities and appreciating your peers instead of taking things personally in a professional context. Being kind is important, but embrace your villain era and back yourself!