Be Unapologetically You

By Janet Zaretsky, The BS-to-Brilliance Master

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How to Be Your Own BS Detector: Stop. Downplaying. Your. Worth.

I am on a mission to empower women. It is my view that we, together, as women can and will alter the conversation of who a woman is in the world. I know that will take some time and effort. I read, I watch programs, I take courses, I intervene with myself and other women with that one intention. I know it is possible.

I watched a series on Amazon Prime called “Good Girls Revolt” which is set in a news organization of 1970. One of the major threads of the story line is about women fighting for their rights. It is inspiring, and yet disheartening. In an episode women were not allowed to have the job of a ‘reporter’ while doing much of the job and their salaries were 1/3 of the men’s salaries.

It is disheartening; we are still not on equal footing in both jobs and salaries and it is nearly 50 years later! We can and will alter that, together.

One of the small, yet highly impactful, acts we can each take is to pay attention to and alter our incessant and reflexive need to apologize—-for almost EVERYTHING!

It has become my pet peeve reflexive apologizing or using apologetic behavior!

Simple words: I’m sorry. They have a major impact. Sometimes, they are wanted and needed but for most women, they are a costly habit. If you follow around many women, maybe even yourself, you will find women apologizing for nearly everything.

Everything from, “I’m sorry, can you pass the ketchup” to “I’m sorry, my thoughts on that project are…” are simply habits of speaking. This undeserved need to apologize can leave people with an impression that you’re not confident, feel inadequate, and are easy to walk all over, whether you do it at work or in your personal life. In a work situation, this can cost you promotions, responsibility and respect, as well as salary. If you are an independent business owner and set your own fees and you have a habit of apologizing, this habit undermines your confidence and highly likely your fee structure as well as your ability to ask for what you are worth.

Ever wonder why we have this habit and what to do to stop it?

According to a 2010 study  published in the journal Psychological Science“women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior,” which then has us likely to feel as if we need to apologize in daily situations. We are even prone to apologize as a preamble to being direct such as when stating our opinion or when asking for a raise or a new job or position.

Recently, on “Inside Amy Schumer”, Amy did a sketch  that satirically made fun of our propensity to apologize: in the sketch various accomplished women on a panel apologize, first for trivial things like being allergic to caffeine, or for talking over one another, but finally for having the gall to exist in the first place.  Funny, yet disturbing.

Beverly Engel, a psychotherapist said “ You’d think that offering apologies too often is like offering too many compliments—it just shows you’re a nice, caring person, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It actually shows that you’re not confident, feel inadequate, and are easy to walk all over, whether you do it at work or in your personal life.”

What is the answer? Stop it.  The constant apologizing not only diminishes you, your self-esteem and makes your voice less likely to get heard, but it is time consuming. Imagine if you did not apologize but simply declared your opinion, was straight in your communications and relayed your requests powerfully. Imagine not only how you would change the way others interact with you, but how you would feel about yourself and your own power.

If you tell the truth to yourself- you are not sorry to ask for an email that should have been sent to us weeks ago, or to expect to receive the item we paid for, or to be bumped into on the subway, as examples. You are not sorry your opinion in a meeting matters. You are not sorry that you are asking to be paid what you are worth.

Confident women simply are powerful in their communication. You don’t need to apologize for what you say, what you want, or most of what you automatically apologize for. State what you want, say what you mean with no preamble.

To have our voices heard we need to not only stop reflexive apologizing but pay attention to where we are apologetic in our ways of being and alter that. For example:

  • When stating an opinion using a normal tone of voice instead of the higher tone lilt at the end of a statement (sounding like you question what you are saying)
  • If someone takes credit for your idea in a meeting, making sure to thank them for bringing attention to your idea (thus taking the credit back)
  • Paying attention to body language and holding yourself open and confident
  • Stop justifying your point of view
  • In email:
    • Stop using smiley faces when asking for something
    • Stop prefacing what you are asking for with saying ‘just’
    • Don’t explain yourself
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want

Wake up. Get conscious to your automatic reflexive behavior that diminishes your power and diminishes your influence.  Get paid what you are worth and honored for who you are when you simply pay attention and begin to intervene and stop apologizing for everything.

You CAN make the difference that you are here on this planet to make. Your brilliance, your contribution, your influence can and will impact the world when you break yourself out of the apology trap. Be authentically you with no apology!

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