A small soapbox on the word “sorry”

There are many more elegant ways to say “sorry,” and when you employ them instead, it makes you mindful of what you are apologizing for. 

As a lady who has been socialized somewhat to be apologetic for existing, in the past two years I’ve tried to completely erase the word “sorry” from my workplace and relationship vocabulary and use “My apologies” or “forgive me” instead. Because they’re more grandiose and older-world phrases, it helps to give me pause and consider whether what I’m apologizing for is worth the weight of the words.

This also saves my “sorry” for when it is truly necessary — when I have offended or injured. As I realize I can do more often than I think.

Other nifty tricks for being a young person in a job:

  • Do a ctrl+F search for the word “just” in any written communication (subconsciously a word women especially use to downplay their contributions or opinions, which you will rarely see a man do)
  • Don’t hide behind the phrases “I think it might be a good idea if we…” or “but that’s just my opinion.” Shave them from your verbiage. Don’t be a bully, but your idea is an idea. Let it speak for itself and don’t pad yourself from getting shot down with protective fluff.
  • In every meeting you are ever in, contribute one constructive thing. It must be meaningful. People need to remember you were there, and that you were useful.
  • Literally, physically, lean in to the table, sitting up straight. Or mirror the body language of the most powerful person in the room.
  • Never ask your boss a question Google could answer, or a potential employer a question their website or Twitter feed could have answered.
  • Most importantly: when you have made a mistake, do not apologize first. Regret the error, offer a swift and creative solution and a time for when it’ll be fixed, and then genuinely apologize for the inconvenience or pain you caused. Apologies mean nothing at work if you can’t fix your mistake quickly first.

The world is full of irritatingly incompetent people, and I’d be personally pleased if young women made up a slight minority of them.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking about work too much. So much so that I’ve recently been paralyzed at my computer thinking about all the things I have to thing. So I’m overdue for another run-away. Running away is important, because it reminds me that most of my traps are ones I set myself, and that most of the fears I carry are due to my not conforming to a fake version of myself. Running away is very necessary. I rented a renovated bus in the woods on Airbnb as one does and am going to go read Nouwen and Gibran and probably sing to myself as the rain patters down on the metal roof. And it’s the pink moon. I’m very excited. So have a lovely weekend.



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