You’ve probably done it before. You’re stumped on a problem at the office and need to get up and ask the boss for help. After marching into his office, the words pour out before you can control them: “Sorry, but I have a question.” Stop here and ask yourself: why are you apologizing? Are you genuinely sorry for walking in to ask for advice? Because you shouldn’t be. These days, “sorry” pops out of women’s mouths involuntarily. It’s similar to saying “like” before every statement. This is a terrible habit that can form, especially at work.
In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Sloan Crosely addresses the issue directly. She discusses the tendency for women to over-apologize throughout the day, no matter what the situation. Everything from ordering a salad to asking for vacation time has become a conversation laden with “sorry’s.” Crosely references a study that explains how women “have a lower threshold for what constitutes as offensive behavior,” meaning that in situations where one has to be direct, a woman will throw in a “sorry” so she doesn’t come off as rude. But now it’s become so commonplace that many women apologize without even thinking about it. This habit is especially unattractive in the workplace.
When a woman needs to be direct about something, such as getting a raise, she is likely to apologize before she even asks the question: “I’m so sorry but…” is a recurring phrase in conversation. Ladies, all this will do for you in the office is make you look weak or unsure of yourself. Some experts say that women apologize as a “prompt” to get the other person to apologize for something. Overall, it’s an irritating filler word that is sure to deny you the respect that you truly deserve.