There are times when saying “I’m sorry” is appropriate. But there are also times when apologizing can put you in a bad position. There is a lot of psychology around those words; in some professional cases, saying them reduces your authority. While there may be times when you’re at fault in the workplace, there are other phrases that convey the same regret but also maintain your professionalism. Let’s take a closer look.
What Should You Say Instead of Sorry?
Rather than expressing sorrow by saying “I’m sorry” for a mistake, be more confident about your action. “I take responsibility for this.” However, when you take responsibility, you must also let people know how you will fix it. Be clear about it and state, “This is how I am going to fix it.” Even if you don’t know the immediate answer, let people know you’re working on a solution. This approach is still an apology, but it also demonstrates your confidence.
In other cases, it may not be okay to apologize at all. In certain instances, such as being a couple of minutes late for a meeting, thanking the others for their patience with you shows that you acknowledge you have caused discomfort but puts the focus on their positive traits rather than your misstep. Saying thank you can work in several cases and should also be said liberally, even outside of situations that are your fault.
Can I Help
We all have coworkers who vent or show signs of overwhelm. Our gut instinct is to say, “I’m sorry that happened to you,” or “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.” But those platitudes don’t accomplish anything. Instead, do something more proactive and kind. “I can see your stress levels rising. Can I help? Would you like a break?”
The Psychology of Language
Language is complex. And while “I’m sorry” does have a place in many of our everyday interactions, it puts us in a vulnerable position when we apologize at work. It’s not uncommon to see this split down gender lines as men are often perceived as more confident in the workplace than women. This isn’t a suggestion that you don’t own up to your mistakes, but a way to reframe your language around them to be action-oriented.
Do you want to work in a great and supportive environment? Contact Recruiting in Motion today to learn more.