Sorry I’m not sorry….

You’ve heard that before?  It’s a hashtag on twitter and it’s what many of us think sometimes when we apologize in academia because we think it’s the “right” thing to do. I’ve got a newsflash for you ladies out there.  APOLOGIZING IS KILLING YOU PROFESSIONALLY.  stop it!!!! This applies to men too, but women for sure.

As a female in academia, I’ve met some over apologizers and some cut throats.  I admire the cut throat women.  Why? Because they take no prisoners.  They’re not mean about it. They just never apologize.  While I work with them I think, “dang, I need to be more like that.” Then, I got meet with an over apologizer and you know what, I end up pitying them.  I think that they apologize because they’re insecure, insincere, or like a puppy: cute, cuddly, motherly, marshmallow. Period. Be a marshmallow sometimes, just not all of the time.

Don’t believe me?  Fine. Have it your way…..I’m not sorry, but I am going to give you a few examples:

Fox news: you can bash me for using a Fox news link here, but not for the content because if you read it, it makes some good points.  It also has some good links off of it to other sources.

I also enjoyed this opinion piece off of politicsdaily. Why? Because this woman is right. We apologize for everything. And for what?  Just like facebook has changed how we view a “friend,” our zest for apologizing when the sun doesn’t come out also waters down the meaning of an apology.  People don’t take it seriously, they view it as superficial, and without meaning.  Just like Fairbrother says, you’re cheapening your value as a female, an academic, and your overall value when you insist on saying ‘sorry.’

What can you say instead?  “I appreciate your patience,” “I agree, the weather is awful today (insert appropriate response to someones complaint),” “Let’s keep working on this together and we will reach a resolution,” “Let’s discuss your concern,” “I hope your day improves after we’re done here.”  You get the idea.  Turn the negative into a positive.  A student got lost finding my office and was 15 minutes late.  I had another meeting and I left.  He emailed me later in the day explaining that he had gotten lost.  We rescheduled and when he found me the second time, he began by saying that I had a difficult office to find.  Instead of starting with “I’m sorry,” I started with, “I’m glad you found it and we could work out this time to meet instead.”

A grad student stopped by my office to talk about a facebook comment.  He told me I hadn’t read the whole article (it was not research related, it was pop culture in nature) and instead of apologizing I countered with, “I guess I didn’t have time to read every single word, you have more time than I do.”  No apologies.  You know why?  I can’t give the undergrad a map and a tracking device.  I wasn’t all that invested in the facebook thread to begin with. The bottom line: THESE PROBLEMS AREN’T MY PROBLEM.  They shouldn’t be yours either (they’re non-problems). In the case of having to apologize, I did it once, with sincerity, and was done apologizing and started taking care of business.

I apologized for my fender bender in the university van. ONCE. IN PERSON. FACE TO FACE. TO MY BOSS. ONCE MORE TO FLEET SERVICES. IN PERSON. FACE TO FACE. Done apologizing. I went back, filled out the proper paperwork, and finished with, “I hope to not have this experience again.”  I forgot to add a colleague to a paper in grad school, he called me on it.  I had totally forgot–it was not intentional.  I apologized to him when he confronted me, explained it was an honest snafu, and moved on.

Stand with me (male or female) and quit freaking apologizing!!!!

We might be addicted to apologizing.  As women, it’s our nature.  It’s a tough habit to break, but it is doable.  Like exercise, eating correctly, and saying the word “um,” we need to be mindful of it to catch ourselves from doing it.

You can break the cycle.  You are a smart, sophisticated, intelligent being and gosh darn it, people like you.  So, stop apologizing yourself to death and get to work!

*my soapbox is packed back up and put safely away. i need a piece of chocolate…..*

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One thought on “Sorry I’m not sorry….

  1. neurovantage says:

    Good post. But, a moment after I finished reading it, I realized that you said in several hundred words:

    “I’m sorry.”

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