The first time I saw this commercial years ago, I cried. I was that woman. The one who would offer up an apology far too often. I became aware of a layer of myself that I didn’t even know existed; the need to please everyone around me, so that I could feel good about myself. I’m betting that the majority of you out there reading this have probably been that woman too, or maybe still are to some degree. After seeing that commercial, I became conscious of my “sorrys” and slowly started scaling back how many times a day or week I’d unnecessarily apologize to others—especially in the workplace.
At the time, I was working in an editorial and vendor retention role and most of my job was replying to emails. Sometimes 30-40 a day. And I was expected to reply ‘promptly’. If I didn’t reply same day or the following business day, I would feel a wave of anxiety and a need to, you guessed it… apologize in my reply, and even give an excuse. “Hi Sarah, I am so, so sorry for not getting back to you sooner! I’ve been drowning in work this week and have a big workshop coming up next week.” This was a regular occurrence as I was seriously overloaded with work. I only had myself to blame for that one—because I had even convinced myself that the more work I did, the more I’d impress my boss, co-workers, and clients… I’d surely be a slacker if I expressed my limits, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I became truly aware of why I was apologizing (hello, low self-esteem) I started on a journey of rebuilding confidence. And that meant replacing my sorrys with thank yous. I started in a place where most of those daily apologies were happening: my email replies. Rather than the usual “Sorry it took so long to get back to you!” (when it had really only been 72 hours), I’d say: “Thank you so much for your patience in my reply.” or “I really appreciate your patience in my delayed response.” That small step opened up a whole new world for me. I took that new mindset beyond my email replies and into every area of my life. Years later, I’m still a work in progress, but it was such an eye-opener and part of why I’m a confident business owner today.
Do you overuse the word sorry in your email replies and daily interactions? If so, try replacing your apologies with appreciation. Below are some common things you might feel the need to say sorry for and how you can flip the script.
Delayed Email Reply
Sorry: “SO sorry for not getting back to you sooner!”
Thank You: “Thanks so much for your patience in my reply!”
Declining an Opportunity
Sorry: “I’m so sorry, but it’s just not a fit.”
Thank You: “Thank you so much for reaching out. I’ll have to kindly pass at this time but really appreciate you reaching out and keeping me/the brand name in mind.”
Asking for Help
Sorry: “Sorry for even asking this, but I’m going to need help with today’s project because I’m taking a day off this Friday.”
Thank You: “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the task list on this project and would appreciate a helping hand if you are able!”
An Error or Mistake
Sorry: “I’m so sorry about that, I’ll fix it right away!”
Thank You: “I’m so glad you caught that! I’ve gone ahead and made the change. Thanks for being so understanding!”
Changing a Deadline, Project Budget or Pre-agreed Understanding
Sorry: “I’m so sorry to do this, but I won’t be able have this completed for another two weeks. I’m just so busy.”
Thank You: “In order to produce the best final result, I’m going to move the deadline to 11/1 instead of 10/15. I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve been working on with you!”
More Ways to Replace Sorry with Thank You in General Life
“Thank you so much for listening, I appreciate that you’re in my life.” instead of “Sorry for the rant!”
“Thank you for letting me feel open enough to be so honest.” instead of holding back your feelings or opinions.
“I appreciate you taking the time to help me with this.” instead of “Sorry to waste your time helping me with this!”
These are just examples, but I hope they inspire you to drop the apologies and replace them with appreciation, in whatever way you need to. It’s important to note that there is a right time for a true apology, but we shouldn’t be handing them out un-necessarily on a daily basis. When we do this, we leave a positive, confident attitude with those we interact with, rather than a negative, defeated tone. The person on the other end will feel that gratitude and in turn, you may find their reactions to you will be full of acceptance and understanding.