“I ‘m Sorry”: How It’s Affects Your Career
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Sorry to bother you. Sorry to interrupt. Iâm sorry, I donât quite understand? Sorry I missed your call.Sound familiar?While itâs true that acknowledging and fixing your error shows integrity, humility and strength in characterâapologizing for every little mundane workplace occurrence can actually work against you.Business Week reports a study by Australian scholars that talks about how âapologies act as a transfer of power from the offender to the victim,â according to the article. âBy refusing to apologize, the researchers say, the harm-doer retains a sense of control and power.âAnd distinguishing between a necessary or unnecessary apology can help you better manage control in the workplace.We dug into this topic a little deeper and asked several communication and psych experts about the doâs and donâts of apologizing in the workplace. What we found can help you manage your professional reputation a little better:1. Save Your Sorry: Words Lose Meaning When Used too OftenMinor interruptions, longer than usual emails, occasionally hogging the printer is a part of life. Save your sorry for when you really feel and need to express authentic regret.Janet Paskin, who wrote the article mentioned on Business Week, did her own little experiment and found that â the more times you say youâre sorry, the less it means; the less meaningful, the easier it is to say,â she said in the article.In minor office situations, itâs easy to use âsorryâ as a filler word in everyday conversations. Try to be conscious of when you do this. Limit your apologies for when you genuinely feel sorry versus force of habit.2. Instead of Saying âSorry,â Be ProactiveJust because you refuse to apologize for little things doesnât mean you canât act kindly. Letâs say you interrupted someone to ask them a question â rather than apologizing, you could proactively ask your colleague âhey, when is the best time for us to discuss XYZ?âBoom. No apology needed for this mundane situation. And, youâre also a considerate colleague too! Win-win.Plus, âan employee who makes a simple mistake may try to win back a bossâ approval by repeated apologies â but the employee who simply acknowledges the mistake, moves on, and does a better job the next time has not only shown remorse for the mistake made, but shown through actions it wonât happen again,â says Lindsey Wagner, Esq. Attorney.3. After a Legitimate Mistake, Apologize without ExcusesThe strongest professionals take full responsibility and rectify their mistakes as soon as possible. And they do it without excuses. For instance, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, social psychologist , offers a great list of common excuses people use on LifeHacker:
â I didnât mean toâ¦ââI was trying toâ¦ââI didnât realizeâ¦ââI had a good reasonâ¦âThe problem with these excuses is that your colleague or boss simply doesnât really want to hear about you at this point. âTherefore, stop talking about you and put the focus of your apology where it belongs: on him or her,â Halvorson says in her piece on LifeHacker.And when the mistake is large and you were involved in some way, stepping up and taking the blame can strengthen your reputation. âWhen someone accepts responsibility, theyâre basically saying, âIâm in charge,âââ Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor who studies negotiation and power told Business Week. âAnd when they promise to fix it, theyâre saying, âIâm capable.âCredit: Career Bliss
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