How To Stop Over Apologising At Work - Management Training

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What gets in the way of developing and holding on to new communication skills are old habits of thinking and speaking. Even if the advice is very good the reason why it rarely sticks are the mental habits people inevitably revert to, especially under pressure.

Unlearning those old habits and internalising a more effective and lasting approach to communication needs more than a short course of lectures on how to do it.

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Course Summary

Training Objectives

Constantly saying sorry at work? Many of us do this too much. Studies show over-apologising can weaken how others see you. This training course will guide you to stop apologising unnecessarily and boost your confidence instead.

  • Saying sorry too much at work can make you seem less confident and reduce your authority. It's important to know when an apology is really needed.
  • Understand why you over apologise by looking at your fears, self - esteem, or habits from culture or past jobs. This helps in breaking the cycle.
  • Use empathy instead of apologies. Phrases like “I understand this is frustrating” can build connections without weakening your position.
  • Practice speaking with confidence and assertiveness. Using clear and strong language shows that you value yourself and your ideas.
  • Set boundaries by learning to say "no" and not taking on extra tasks as a way to apologise. This respects your limits and teaches others how to treat you.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

You will learn a set of powerful emotional intelligence communication techniques so that you can manage difficult conversations, handle challenging situations, build relationships and set firm boundaries.

Transferable Skills

The goal of this training is to equip you with the tools you need to build strong, lasting relationships in your professional life, although because these skills are so transferable many clients report vast improvements in their personal relationships as well.

Develop Skills

This is a skills development rather than just a theoretical programme, so the emphasis throughout will be on you taking turn after turn, practising your skills, while receiving feedback and coaching about your effect on others.

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In your coaching sessions you will be helped to practise dealing with the kinds of situation you find challenging, again and again, until you are confident you can do it successfully.

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He's now far more aware of his impact on others

Reasons Behind Over-Apologising at Work

Saying sorry too much at work can happen for many reasons. People might worry about fights or feel bad about themselves, especially if they worry about being perceived as having committed offensive behavior.

Cultural norms

Cultural norms play a big part in why we often say "I'm sorry" at work. In some cultures, people are taught to use apologies to show respect or avoid conflict. This means they might over apologise, even for small things or when it's not their fault.

It becomes a habit, like filling space in a conversation.

Being aware of these norms can help you understand your own habits better. You start noticing how often you apologise and question if it's really needed. Recognising this pattern is the first step towards stopping the cycle of over apologising and finding better ways to express yourself at work.

Fear of confrontation

Many people over apologise at work because they fear confrontation. They worry about upsetting others or starting an argument. This fear can make them say sorry, even when they don't need to.

They think apologising will keep the peace. Yet, this often leads to them feeling undervalued.

Low self-esteem also plays a big role in why some folks find themselves in uncomfortable or awkward situations, saying "I'm sorry" too much.

Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem often leads to over apologising at work. People with low self-confidence might feel they are not good enough. They fear making mistakes or upsetting others. So, they say sorry too much, even when it's not their fault.

This can make them seem less capable and sure of themselves.

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She now feels more confident in tackling people

The Negative Impact of Over-Apologising

Saying "sorry" too much at work can hurt your image. People might see you as less confident and not take you seriously.

Diminishes authority

Over apologising at work can make it hard for people to see you as a leader. Each "sorry" might seem small, but together, they suggest you're always in the wrong. This chips away at your authority bit by bit.

People may start doubting your decisions and skills. They could think you lack confidence or aren't sure about what you're doing.

Excess apologies give off a vibe that you're not in control. It's like telling others that mistakes happen often under your watch. Over time, this view can stick, making team members hesitant to follow your lead.

It gets tough to inspire trust and respect – key ingredients for any successful leader.

Creates a perception of weakness

Losing authority often leads to being seen as weak. Saying sorry too much at work makes others think you lack confidence. They might doubt your skills and decisions. This can hurt how your team sees you.

You want to be strong and sure, not someone who always seems unsure or afraid.

Weakness in the workplace is a big problem. It stops people from listening to you or taking you seriously. If everyone thinks you're not strong, it's hard to lead or make changes. People respect those who stand firm and speak with conviction, not those who constantly apologise for every little thing.

Can be seen as insincere

Saying sorry too much at work might make you seem not sincere. If you apologise all the time, people may start to think your apologies are just empty words. They won't take them seriously anymore.

This could lead to coworkers and bosses doubting your honesty and commitment. It's vital to strike a balance - apologise when it's truly needed but avoid making it a habit for small mistakes or things out of your control.

Recognising what makes you over apologise is key to changing this habit.

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Are you helping them think for themselves?

Determine Your Triggers for Over-Apologising

What makes you say sorry too much at work, and how can you change this?

Identify situations where you tend to apologise excessively

You might say sorry too much at work if you're always the first to take the blame in a team mess-up, even when it's not your fault. Think about those times you've dashed off an "I'm sorry" email for simply asking a question or needing clarification on a task.

These are examples show you're over-apologising without good reason.

It’s also common to over-apologise during remote work meetings, especially with tech issues that aren’t your fault. If your internet lags or an electronic device acts up, and you find yourself repeatedly saying "sorry," that's another sign.

Reflecting on these moments can help pinpoint why you feel compelled to apologise excessively for such small errors or mishaps that are often beyond your control.

Reflect on the underlying reasons for your apologies

Understanding why you say sorry too much at work starts with looking inside. It might be because you're scared of arguments, feel low about yourself, or just do it out of habit. These feelings make you think saying sorry will fix things or keep peace.

Yet, this often comes from not wanting to upset anyone or seem rude.

Some people have learned this behaviour from where they grew up or their job before. Maybe in some places, saying sorry a lot seemed like good manners. Or perhaps you've seen others avoid trouble by apologising, even when they weren't wrong.

This can lead to over-apologising becoming a habit that's hard to break.

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Assertiveness, Listening Skills and Emotional Intelligence Training

Alternatives to Saying "I'm Sorry" using Emotional Intelligence

Find better ways to speak without always saying "I'm sorry" by tapping into your emotional intelligence skills. This will help you reduce the need for many future apologies.

Empathising with the other person e.g. “I imagine you’re worried”

Saying "I imagine you’re worried" shows you're thinking about how the other person feels. This can be a powerful way to connect without saying sorry too much. You acknowledge their feelings and show that you care.

It’s like giving them a nod, telling them they’re not alone in what they’re facing.

Using words that empathise helps keep your message clear and kind. Instead of jumping to apologise, try understanding the person's viewpoint first. This approach can reduce stress for both of you, making tough conversations easier to manage.

Acknowledging the impact of your actions e.g. “I know this is frustrating”

Saying "I know this is frustrating" shows you see and care about how your actions affect others. It's a way to connect on a human level, without just throwing out an empty apology.

This approach can help build trust and keep things smooth at work, even when mistakes happen.

Using these words wisely makes the other person feel understood. They might not fix everything, but they sure do help in easing tension. It’s all about showing empathy – letting people know that their feelings are valid and that you’re there to work together towards a solution.

Taking responsibility without excuses e.g. “I’m determined to sort this out"

After recognising how our actions may affect others, it's key to step up and fix issues without making excuses. “I’m determined to sort this out” is a powerful phrase that shows you're ready to take full responsibility for your part in any mistake or problem at work.

This approach does not only stop over apologising but also builds trust with colleagues. It shows you're serious about making things right and are not just saying sorry as a quick fix.

By embracing this mindset, we shed the habit of excuse-making that often accompanies apologies. Committing to resolve matters directly impacts how others view us - no longer as someone who shies away from challenges but as a proactive problem-solver.

This positive change can lead to fewer misunderstandings and stronger professional relationships because people know they can count on us to manage issues effectively without unnecessary apologies.

Thanking the other person e.g. “I’m grateful for your understanding"

Thanking someone shows you value their patience and understanding. For example, if a task takes longer than expected, saying "I'm grateful for your understanding" can make the other person feel appreciated.

It's not just about keeping things smooth; it also builds stronger connections at work. By focusing on gratitude rather than sorry, you steer clear of negative vibes.

This approach sets a positive tone and encourages open communication.

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Learn how to be both firm and fair

Addressing Common Scenarios

In day-to-day work, we often find ourselves in spots where we say "sorry" too much. Think about tech troubles or jumping into chats - these moments don't always need an apology.

Dealing with technical difficulties

Tech problems can pop up at any time during remote work. You might feel the urge to say sorry if your computer crashes or a link doesn't work. Instead of over apologising, explain what's wrong and how you're fixing it.

Say, "I'm dealing with tech issues but I'll sort it out as quickly as possible." This shows you're on top of things without sounding weak.

Joining a conversation

Jumping into a conversation at work can seem scary, especially if you worry about making mistakes. Instead of saying "I'm sorry" to slide into the chat, try other ways. You could say "Excuse me, may I add something?" This shows respect and keeps your voice heard without over apologising.

It's important in moments like these to stay confident and use strong words.

After finding your way into discussions smoothly, focus on handling mistakes confidently will be key.

Making a mistake

After learning how to join a conversation gracefully, it’s time to tackle making a mistake. Everyone messes up now and then – it's part of the job. Instead of saying "I'm sorry" right away, pause.

Try understanding what went wrong. Then, express your plan to fix it without making excuses. For example, say "I've noticed the error and here's how I plan to correct it." This shows you're taking responsibility and are committed to solving the problem.

Say thank you more than “I’m sorry.” If someone helps you after a mistake, appreciate their patience or guidance. Say "Thank you for pointing that out, I’ll make sure it doesn't happen again." This shift puts a positive spin on the situation and keeps everyone moving forward without dwelling on the fault.

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How aware are you of your effect on others?

Practice Speaking with Confidence

Start using strong words and be clear when you speak. This will help you feel sure of yourself at work. Keep reading for more tips to boost your confidence in talking!

Use strong, assertive language

Speaking with confidence at work means using strong, assertive language. This doesn't mean being rude or too direct. It's about being clear and firm in what you say. For example, instead of saying "I'm sorry to bother you.." try "I need a moment of your time." This shift shows you respect both your own needs and the person you're talking to.

You also need to avoid downplaying your role when speaking up. If you offer a suggestion, frame it as a valuable contribution rather than a potential inconvenience. Say "I have an idea that could help us improve," not "It might be wrong but..".

This kind of language makes people listen and take notice, pushing past self-doubt and making sure your voice is heard loud and clear at work.

Avoid making excuses or minimising your role

Making excuses or playing down your role can make it seem like you're not confident in what you do. It's key to own up to your actions and talk with certainty. This shows others you trust in your abilities and decisions.

You should focus on solving problems instead of making excuses for them. Excuse making doesn't help anyone, nor does it fix anything.

Speaking assertively means avoiding words that water down your message. For instance, rather than saying "I'm sorry if I got this wrong," try "Let's review the facts together." This approach shifts the conversation from blame to resolution, a much more productive and empowering stance.

Stand firm but be open to discussing mistakes without belittling yourself - this promotes growth and learning in the workplace.

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People used to be scared of him - no longer

Developing Better Communication Skills using Emotional Intelligence skills

Boosting your communication with Emotional Intelligence helps you speak more clearly and understand others better. This makes it easier to get along at work. Want to learn how? Keep reading!

Identifying and expressing your needs

To stop over apologising at work, we must get good at spotting and voicing what we need. It sounds easy, but often, fear of seeming selfish or demanding holds us back. Start by understanding yourself—know the support and resources you need to do your job well.

This is not about being needy; it's about being clear and direct. Share these needs with your team or manager in a straightforward way. Say things like "I need more time to finish this project to meet our standards.".

Communicating needs also involves listening—to feedback, concerns, or even the silence when something's not right. If a task feels too big, say so early on rather than saying sorry later for missing deadlines.

Or if you're unsure how to handle different projects effectively because the tech savvy needed varies greatly from one to another—ask for guidance or training before problems arise.

It’s all about preempting issues with communication instead of fixing them with apologies after the fact.

Practising assertiveness

Knowing what you need leads smoothly into expressing yourself with confidence. Practising assertiveness is a great tool for this. It means speaking up about your views and needs without being aggressive or passive.

Assertive communication helps in avoiding over apologising at work. You show respect to others and to yourself too.

Start by saying what you think or need directly, yet kindly. Avoid filler words that might weaken your point, like "just" or "maybe." Be clear but stay open to discussion. This balance keeps conversations constructive and shows you are firm but fair—key in stopping the habit of saying sorry too often.

Building self-confidence

Practising assertiveness lays the groundwork for boosting self-confidence. Feeling sure about your actions can make a big difference at work. Start by setting small, reachable goals for yourself.

Each time you meet a goal, your belief in yourself grows. This is key to building self-confidence.

Speaking up in meetings or sharing your ideas can also boost how confident you feel. It might be scary at first, but with each try, it gets easier. Remembering past successes helps too.

Think back on times when you did well and use that to fuel your confidence moving forward. This way, over apologising becomes less of an issue as you trust more in what you bring to the table.

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Learn how to be person yet tough on the issue

Set Boundaries

Learn to say "no" and stand up for yourself. This way, you won't take on extra tasks just to make up for mistakes or to apologise.

Learn to say "no" and stand up for yourself

Saying "no" is crucial at work. It shows you know your limits and value your time. Don't take extra tasks to make up for mistakes or to say sorry. This can harm more than help. By standing firm, you respect yourself and teach others to do the same.

To stand up for yourself, use clear words. Be direct but kind. If someone asks too much from you, explain why it's too much. You don't need excuses or long stories. This way, you keep control and show strength in your choices.

Don't take on extra tasks to apologise or make up for mistakes

After learning to say "no" and standing up for yourself, it's vital not to overcompensate for errors by taking on more work. Doing extra tasks won't correct mistakes from the past.

It just makes you more tired and doesn't fix the original problem.

Pushing yourself too hard as a way of saying sorry can lead to burnout. Plus, it doesn't really show you're sorry. A better way is to focus on doing your current tasks well and learning from any slip-ups.

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Stand up for your ideals and also respect theirs

How To Stop Over Apologising At Work - Conclusion

Stopping over-apologising at work means interacting in a way that embraces more confidence and fine-tuning how we talk. It's about choosing words that show we're in control and ready to tackle tasks head-on, without always saying "sorry." By picking up on what triggers our habit of over-apologising, we can start swapping out apologies for more empowering phrases.

Practicing this shift not only boosts our self-esteem but also changes how others see us - more as problem-solvers than problem-makers. So, let's stop over apologizing and speak with assurance.

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How To Stop Over Apologising At Work - FAQs

1. Why do people say "I'm sorry" too much at work?

People often say "I'm sorry" a lot because they want to be super humble or fill space in conversation. Sometimes, it's just second nature or something taught culturally.

2. How can over apologising affect my job?

Saying "I'm sorry" too much might make you seem less confident. It could also make others think you feel inadequate or have self-doubt, which isn't great for your career.

3. What can I do instead of apologising all the time?

Instead of always apologising, try using other phrases that don't lower your self-esteem but still show you're aware of the situation. For example, if you didn't do a task right, talk about how you'll fix it rather than saying sorry.

4. Can stopping over-apologising help me in remote work?

Yes! Even when working from home - where electronic devices mean interacting differently - not over-apologising shows confidence and clarity in communication.

5. Is there a way to apologise without hurting my self-esteem?

Sure! When you really need to say sorry, give a sincere apology for what went wrong specifically - this keeps things clear and shows your heart is in the right place without making you seem weak.

6. Are there tricks to stop saying "I'm sorry" so much?

Yes! Be hyper-aware of when and why you're apologising; maybe even keep track for a bit... Recognise situations where an apology isn’t needed and practise using alternate points or phrases that get your message across without undermining yourself.

7. How can I stop apologizing at work, especially since remote work gained popularity?

Since remote work gained popularity, the dynamic of over apologising at work has become even more prevalent, potentially leading to uncomfortable or awkward situations. To stop over apologising, especially in a remote setting, begin by recognising situations where an apology is genuinely warranted versus when it's a reflexive response to minor errors or misunderstandings. Career consulting firms often advise against over apologising as it can negatively impact perceptions of your professionalism and confidence. Instead of offering a heartfelt apology for every small mistake, consider whether a simple acknowledgment or a different approach to communication would be more appropriate. For instance, if you've completed a task incorrectly, rather than immediately saying "I'm sorry," you might explain what happened and how you intend to rectify it, showing responsibility without over apologising. Remember, the goal is to maintain a balance between being accountable and not undermining your own competence, especially in a remote work environment where every message counts.

8. As a black woman, how can I navigate the tendency to over apologise at work without creating an uncomfortable or awkward situation?

A: Navigating the tendency to over apologise at work, particularly from a black woman's perspective, involves a careful balance between remaining compassionate and asserting one's competence. Many women, and especially black women, often face an unfair expectation to over apologise, which can lead to uncomfortable or awkward situations. A career consulting firm specialising in diversity and inclusion might recommend practicing scenarios where you stop over apologising by preparing better phrases that convey your message without implying fault where none exists. For example, instead of apologising for bringing up an opposing point in a meeting, you could say, "I appreciate your perspective, and I'd like to offer a different viewpoint for us to consider." This approach demonstrates your engagement and respect for the conversation without unnecessarily diminishing your contribution. Additionally, it's important to recognise that not every instance of offence requires an apology—sometimes, clarifying your intent and engaging in an open dialogue can be the strongest response. By adopting these strategies, you can avoid excessive apologising while still fostering respectful and constructive interactions at work.

9. Can over apologising during a job interview negatively impact my chances, and how can I avoid it?

Over apologising during a job interview can indeed negatively impact your chances by conveying a lack of confidence or certainty in your abilities. To avoid over apologizing, it's crucial to prepare for the interview by reflecting on common scenarios where you might feel inclined to apologise, such as discussing a period of unemployment or a task you handled incorrectly in the past. Career consulting firms often advise job candidates to frame their experiences positively, focusing on what they learned or how they grew from such instances, rather than defaulting to an apology. If you accidentally offended someone or answered a question less effectively than you hoped, resist the urge to over apologise. Instead, you could say, "Let me clarify my point," or "What I meant to convey was..." This approach allows you to correct any misunderstandings without undermining your competence. Remember, a job interview is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and how you can contribute to the company, not a forum for highlighting every minor mistake. By following these tricks outlined by career experts, you can navigate your interview with confidence, avoiding the trap of over apologising and leaving a stronger impression on your potential employer.

10. In a professional environment, how can recognizing situations where apologizing is unnecessary, like certain situations involving over apologizing, contribute to career advancement, especially from a career nomad's perspective?

Recognizing situations where apologizing is unnecessary, particularly in contexts prone to over apologizing, is crucial for anyone navigating the professional world, more so for a career nomad. Over apologizing for every minor mistake or awkward situation, especially those that don't warrant a heartfelt apology, can inadvertently convey a lack of confidence. This behavior can negatively impact how colleagues perceive you, potentially stalling career progression.

For instance, if a career nomad accidentally offends a colleague or handles a task incorrectly, the immediate instinct might be to offer a strong apology. However, constantly doing so, especially for trivial matters or certain situations where a simple explanation or a better phrase could suffice, may lead to being perceived as lacking in self-assurance or competence.

Instead of defaulting to "I'm sorry," consider if the situation calls for an apology or if there's an opportunity to assertively address the issue without undermining your self-esteem. This shift from over apologizing to taking full responsibility in a composed manner - whether you're dealing with technical difficulties, opposing points, or simply reverted decisions - shows maturity and professionalism.

A career consulting firm might advise using such instances to demonstrate problem-solving skills and the ability to manage issues effectively, rather than falling into the trap of excuse-making or empty apologies. This approach not only avoids the wrong response but also ensures your voice is heard and respected, making your apologies, when genuinely needed, more impactful.

In the evolving landscape where remote work has gained popularity, and the means of interacting are constantly changing, adopting these strategies can make a significant difference. It helps in avoiding excessively apologizing, maintains your professional integrity, and ensures you're recognized for your contributions rather than a tendency to over apologize. For a career nomad, mastering this balance can lead to meaningful interactions, stronger relationships, and, ultimately, career advancement. Final thoughts: Being mindful of when and how you apologize can transform how you're perceived in the workplace, turning potential awkward situations into opportunities for growth and leadership.

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