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Stop Apologizing…Please!

Is your tendency to apologize or over-apologize? The bad news is that women do so far more than men according to a study from the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. The good news is that it is a habit that can be broken and yes, it does take practice. Constantly apologizing can certainly lower self-esteem and contribute to feelings of frustration and anger.

Language and tone are important. How often do you say things like, “I’m sorry I interrupted you”, or “I’m sorry but I just had a question,” “Excuse me,” and more? Is it an automatic response to some people in your personal or professional life? How can you prepare for a more positive interaction?

Self-awareness is key. Take a moment to reflect the next time you begin a sentence with, “I’m sorry.” Apologies are appropriate if you made a mistake or were wrong, however, they can be self-esteem eroders if they are commonplace in your interactions.

Likewise, new research indicates that if you want a favor done, ask a woman. In one study, 47-business school students were asked to recall to agreeing to a favor on the job at a time when they preferred to decline the request. According to authors of Breaking the Glass Ceiling with “No”, the female participants did the favor even though they were five times more likely than males to have reported feeling worn out.  They were also twice as likely to have been worried about the consequences of saying no. In a second study, female undergrads were 50% more likely to comply with an implicit request for a favor than were male students. “The willingness of women to do favors in the workplace may lead them to become overburdened with low-skill tasks,” said the researchers and it’s disempowering to you personally. Would this same request be made of a male colleague/peer?

It is important for us all to consider who is making the request, and what the consequences of not complying are both in and outside the workplace. Habits can be changed but it takes awareness and practice. Begin today by listening and not automatically responding. You can agree to check your schedule/workload, for previous commitments, decide if this is something you will do, and inform them accordingly. By changing your way of managing requests, you may decrease the number or type of favor you are asked to do. By deflecting or even deferring to another colleague you will spread the wealth around.

And, however comfortable you assumed you were with change, you may experience unexpected pushback, making this the ideal time to engage the support of a career coach with experience in helping professionals achieve better, faster, results. At KICKSTART Your Transition we offer a broad range of services customized to fit your needs.


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