Can we replace an auto-pilot apology with sincere appreciation?
We recently offered a President with whom we work, feedback that she didn’t need to apologize in her voicemail for not being able to take our call at the time we made it. She laughed. She is a president for goodness sake. No one expects OnDemand access.
Do you have an apology on your voice mail? How often do you go to apologize automatically?
As a LeaderMom, we frequently feel a need to apologize, and sometimes it’s spot-on and sometimes it’s not. "Sorry I’m late." "Sorry, I have to run to the dentist, bank, soccer, etc." "Sorry, I’m late for pickup." “Sorry I can’t stay for that impromptu late meeting on a topic I don’t care about.”
However, because it’s an automatic or autopilot urge does NOT make it wise, necessary or gracious. It might be a short-cut our brain is taking based on some discomfort or vulnerability, and it might unintentionally feed an unconscious gender bias. Over-apologizing can corrode our personal brands and our joy. And vulnerability, and accepting help, not just giving it, supports the relationships we need to work, parent and live effectively and happily.
For 2 seconds before you automatically apologize, pause and think: “Do I need to apologize or can I instead step into appreciation of people who are helpful and supportive in my moments of nuttiness or human imperfection?”
Compare the apologies above to statements like these.
“Thank you for covering that meeting. I feel lucky to have you representing us.”
"Thank you for your patience with my reply. It means a lot you trust me and gave me a little extra time.”
"Thank you for taking this task on. It’s a great use of your talents and I feel grateful to be able to make this soccer game."
"Thank you, for staying open an extra couple minutes and keeping my child company. I so appreciate your dedication!"
That subtle shift is more powerful than you could ever imagine. Moment-to-moment mindful choices – what we say and how we say it – can make or break our days. Choices like these build strong positive relationships, families, and teams.