The Importance of Not Apologizing by Carol Simpson of Underdog Press
As children we’re taught the importance of apologizing when we have hurt someone or done something we’re not supposed to. As women, we tend to apologize far more than men. This doesn’t mean just plainly saying “I’m sorry”. This means using that apologetic tone when speaking to others or starting a sentence with “sorry to bother you”. There are so many other different variations of this that I could list, but then this short piece would turn into a novel. These apologies are almost as if you’re asking for permission to express your ideas. We use apologies to seem polite, but it leads to our ideas and opinions being indirect and therefore more easily dismissed.
I stumbled across an article one time on a random business website. A young woman who had just started her first job at a large company came to an important realization thanks to her boss. After noticing that she apologized whenever she asked a question or when she was presenting an idea to her superiors, her boss asked her “why are you still apologizing like you’re a recent college grad?” That struck a chord with me. From that moment she began to be more aware of how she was wording things and how she approached her colleagues. She clearly had the experience to be there and needed to start acting like it. Yes, you may be an intern or you may be at an entry level position, but it’s so important to carry yourself with a certain level of self-importance- while of course not letting your ego take over and staying humble while working hard. Just like the local act on a national tour gives it their all even though they’re not the headliner, you need to act like the headlining act. Especially in this industry, it’s important to be direct and strong in your ideas and actions.
I had my first major internship this past summer. I was so excited yet so nervous about messing up the smallest things. While that fear encouraged me to be meticulous about the work I was doing, it also damaged my self-confidence in several situations. It made me a nervous person (even more nervous and shy than I typically am). On one occasion I distinctly remember saying “Sorry to be annoying” before asking for a task to do. Looking back on that moment I wonder why I even said that. Of course it’s not annoying. They hired me for a reason and want me there. Even on campus, at a school where I have grown to be comfortable and confident, I find myself apologizing when I share ideas. Approaching situations with a tone that says “I have this great idea, but feel free to shoot it down because I seem to not be 100% confident in it myself”. It is a very difficult position to emerge from, but the payoff is worth it.
Women are constantly working to justify their place. They are constantly proving why they are good enough to be in their position or that they earned that position because they are qualified and worked hard for it. I still have days where I am nervous and unsure about whether I am doing the right thing, but there is a certain power and confidence that comes with being unapologetic. Not being unapologetically rude or stepping over others to get ahead, but rather holding yourself to the highest standard because you made it to where you are for a reason. You are always right where you are meant to be. You deserve to be there. You have earned it.