Do you apologize for everything? For mistakes others make? For expressing an opinion that might be unpopular? For walking into a room? Do you take the blame for things that have nothing to do with you? Or when something is clearly someone else’s fault?
If you over-apologize, you’re not alone. For women, it’s very common to start sentences with “I’m sorry.” Women want to avoid conflict. We’re programmed to accept blame and strangely, that makes us feel in control of the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. And, even though men are less likely to unnecessarily apologize, there are those who do.
Saying you’re sorry lessens your credibility. Rather than controlling the situation, it actually devalues what ever you say next. So does using pet phrases like “To be honest…,” or “I’ve just gotta say…,” or “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…” Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas suggests that by using such phrases, “We are emotionally distancing ourselves from our own message, without even knowing it.”
It’s important to communicate consciously – to state your point accurately and respectfully – all with the intent of being understood by the listener. Yet, many of us have pet phrases that have landed in our speech pattern and stuck. They are so common, often we don’t even hear ourselves use them. But just like body language can betray one’s authority and presence, these simple words can broadcast insecurity – they may even imply dishonesty.
Strengthen your impact as a communicator by eliminating every day pet phrases and common filler statements. Doing so will make you a more polished, confident and compelling communicator. The first step is to become aware of using them. You might not hear them until after they’ve left your lips. But all is not lost. Once you start to notice when and how often you apologize or use filler phrases, you can begin to consciously choose to stop yourself before you speak the damaging words out loud.
By nature, humans are afraid of silence. But until you’re ready to say something that will benefit you and the conversation, know that silence is fine. Hence the phrase “Silence is golden.” Silence will always sound better than the dreaded “ummm.” It will also serve you better than apologizing or verbally stepping back from what you’re about to say at a time when you should be speaking with commitment and confidence.