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Over-Apologizing Can Kill Your Career

July 9, 2014

My friend and fellow coach Aimee Cohen has just released her first book, WomanUp! Because I’m so committed to what Aimee_CohenAimee is sharing through her book and practice I asked her to do a short interview and write a guest blog. This way you get to experience Aimee’s message and passion for helping women through two venues, listening and reading. Sorry, I can’t share anything by touch via my blog!

Because there has been a lot of focus on women who over-apologize lately (Pantene ad) we decided this would be a great topic to discuss in more detail through our discussion and her blog. Take a listen to my interview with Aimee, enjoy her blog and be sure to pick up a copy of her book, WomanUp! on her website.

Listen to my interview with Aimee (Run time approx 21 minutes)

Over-apologizing Can Kill Your Career

By Guest Blogger Aimee Cohen

Ladies, two simple words, “I’m sorry”, could be killing your career. The biggest conversation taking place right now is how women over-apologize, impulsively apologize, and indiscriminately apologize for acts and behaviors that don’t warrant an apology.

As women, we’re taught to be well-mannered and learn early on that it’s not polite to make others feel uncomfortable to appear (and act) overly aggressive or combative. We ask for help by saying, “I’m sorry to bother you, but can you direct me to customer service?” Someone bumps into us and we say, “I’m sorry, excuse me.” We don’t hear someone call out our name and we say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” None of these scenarios would be classified as wrongdoings, but women still feel the need to apologize.

Women over-apologize as a way to avoid conflict and to foster harmony and agreement. A quick apology may represent an effective strategy if the goal is to deescalate a volatile situation and keep the peace. Instead of appearing nice and polite, however, over-apologizers run the risk of appearing like passive doormats…easily walked all over and taken advantage of by others.

This overly polite behavior sends the wrong message in the workplace and can have a negative impact on your career. Excessive apologizing is perceived as a sign of weakness, a lack of confidence and competence, and an inability to lead and make difficult decisions. The tendency for women to over-apologize at work minimizes their expertise and undermines their authority.

You should never apologize for being the smartest person in the room, for occupying a seat in the boardroom, for being a subject matter expert, for honoring your gut feeling, for dancing to the beat of your own drum, for having a big personality, or for your value.

Whether you’re negotiating a base salary, seeking a raise, or establishing an hourly fee, apologizing for rightfully earning money for your valuable products, services, and expertise is no longer acceptable. Remove “I’m sorry, but I charge $250 an hour” from your vocabulary. Super-successful women not only don’t apologize for how much money they make, they know they’re worth every penny.

To help cure this over-apologizing epidemic, raise your right hand and swear you will never apologize for these 10 things ever again…

  1. Your Ambition.
  2. Your Work/Life Balance.
  3. Your Brilliance.
  4. Your Expertise.
  5. Your Failures.
  6. Your Individuality.
  7. Your Intuition.
  8. Your Personality.
  9. Your Success.
  10. Your Value.

The ability to apologize and to accept responsibility is a noble quality in the right circumstances. Conversely, unconscious and indiscriminate apologizing can kill your career. If women want to achieve greater levels of respect and success, being more selective and discerning about when to say “I’m sorry” is a step in the right direction. Woman UP! and reserve your apologies for truly offensive behavior and egregious errors.

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