Several years ago, I went to lunch with a colleague of mine whom I really respect, and hadn’t seen in some time. She is bright, articulate and has done very well in her financial career. She asked me what I had been up to the past few years, in my business and my family.
When I got done filling her in, she surprised me by saying, “Can I give you some feedback?” To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear it, but I replied, “Sure.”
And she said, “Stop saying you’re sorry for everything. It really takes away from your story and more importantly your power. Since we’ve been sitting here, twice you’ve apologized, once for going on too long with a story, and second for what you considered a “rant”. You don’t need to do that.”
And since then, I’ve tried to be very conscious about not apologizing for things that don’t require an apology and other personal offenses such as, “I’m really sorry for bringing this up”, or “I know this is a really stupid question”, or “I hate to ask you, but..”
Now, there certainly are times when saying “I’m sorry” is warranted. That’s when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings, or missed an appointment, or after an argument and such, but apologizing for taking up too much space, or too much time, or too much airtime, is totally unnecessary.
And this unfortunate, silly little habit is primarily used by women. I noticed it today in my networking group. One of the members (a female) had a lot of great stuff going on with her business and she had shared longer than usual, but not at all an inappropriate amount of time. After she got done, she said, “Oh, I’m really sorry to have gone on so long, so sorry”.
And for me, that little apology totally negated all the really powerful things she had accomplished in the last two weeks of her business. It made her look small and I’m sure made her feel small by saying it.
Start noticing when and where you are saying “I’m sorry” and try to discern where the habit came from. How does it make you feel when you do it? The first step to changing this bad habit is to notice.
And men, I’m asking you to please kindly point out to all the women in your life, when you catch them apologizing for something that does not require an apology.
So women, PLEASE stop apologizing for taking up space, or air time or when you refuse requests you don’t want to do. Because when you do, what you’re really saying to the world is “I’m sorry for being me”.
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