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Stop saying ‘I’m sorry’ at work, which can make you look weak: Try these phrases instead, says CEO of career consulting firm

By | Ashton Jackson |

For many people, saying “I’m sorry” after certain situations, even those that don’t require an apology, is second nature. But over-apologizing can backfire, especially in the workplace: It can make others think less of you, lower your self-esteem, and water down the impact of future apologies.

The habit can come from a place of insecurity, and it can be especially common among women and people of color, says to Patrice Williams Lindo, CEO of Career Nomad, a career consulting firm.

“We are taught culturally, especially from a Black woman’s perspective, to be super humble and to downplay our wins. That’s how I was raised,” Lindo says. “It was a problem to be prideful in the way you spoke about yourself and your accomplishments. So we feel inadequate and insecure.”

The need to over-apologize is born from this pattern of self-doubt — and recognizing situations when you should and shouldn’t say “I’m sorry” is one of the first steps to finding better phrases to use instead, Lindo says.

Here are three common scenarios where you might be tempted to over-apologize, and what to consider saying instead.

If you’re experiencing technical difficulties

Hybrid and remote work gained popularity in the last few years, causing people to use their electronic devices more than ever. Unfortunately, no matter how tech-savvy you are, technical difficulties are bound to occur. And they usually aren’t your fault.

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