How Women Business Owners Can Stop Overusing "I'm Sorry"
In this post, we’ll share four common situations in which female business owners apologize, and suggest alternative language to use instead.
1. Asking a question
Do you find yourself saying “I’m sorry” if you have a question during a meeting? You might feel as if your inquiry is a burden to your peers, or you feel guilty for slowing down the pace of the meeting. This shouldn’t be the case! If you ask a question, it shows that you are interested in the subject of the meeting.
According to Forbes, women apologizing for asking a question highlights the confidence gap between men and women. As an alternative to prefacing your question with “I’m sorry,” consider saying something like “Let’s go back to the previous slide. I want to know how you arrived at…” This phrasing shows you that are not afraid to speak up when an idea is unclear, and that you are intelligently keeping up with the discussion.
2. Making an alternative suggestion
There are times when as a female business owner, you may have an exceptional idea. It may not be the most popular idea, or the way things have been done previously. Still, if you feel strongly about it, it’s important to speak up.
Don’t say, “I’m sorry, but instead I think we should try…”. This shows that you think you are inconveniencing your team by coming up with an idea that could contribute to the success of the business. Instead, you could say “I have an idea that will work well…” and explain your strategy in a confident manner. If you want others to believe in you, you need to demonstrate personal conviction in your ideas!
3. Saying no
Everyone has their limits. If your schedule is booked, and someone requests your assistance, simply say “no.” You don’t owe them an apology, or an explanation as to why you are busy.
Consider saying something like, “My schedule is booked, but I would be happy to help another time.” This response is polite, but makes it clear that you are not willing to overbook your schedule.
4. Asking for a few minutes of someone’s time.
Time is precious, so it can feel as though you are inconveniencing someone when you ask them to meet with you. This shouldn’t be the case, since running a successful business requires collaboration and clear communication.
If you have a pressing concern, idea or question, and you need to ask for a few minutes of a co-worker’s time, don’t apologize. Instead, explain why you need to meet with them, and express your gratitude. People like to hear that you appreciate their time. This will allow you to connect with that individual, without an unnecessary apology!
Apologizing in the right context shows that you are an emotionally intelligent leader. However, as a female in business, it’s important to be wary of overusing the phrase “I’m sorry” when it is not needed. If you didn’t do something wrong, don’t apologize.
The takeaway message for female business leaders is to avoid language that could lead peers into thinking you are insecure, and embrace language that shows that you are a self-assured leader.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.