Young girls are constantly being shown by others that being assertive does not equate with being nice. Their parents, as well as society, models for them that being nice is best. The problem with these messages is that they require them to deny their own truths in order to appease someone else. They grow up not being able to confidently communicate their needs or make any demands without feeling the need to lessen the force first. This is often why women apologize too much as adults.
Apologies as a Defense Tactic
For many women in the workplace, apologizing is one way to make themselves more accessible and seem less threatening. It is how they approach many of their work-life situations in order to stay liked by others. According to one study, this is very different when it comes to men in the workplace because they tend to have a higher threshold for what they think warrants reparation. This could also be because as young boys parents and society gives them the message that “boys will be boys” and therefore minimizes their understanding of what constitutes as offensive behavior in need of an apology.
Awareness is the First Step
In order for women to begin making the changes needed to decrease the amount of apologizing that they do, they must first become aware of how many times they have the desire to say ‘I’m sorry’ throughout the day. By making a conscious effort to number the amount, they are challenging themselves to question an apology’s validity before giving it. Apologizing out of habit or childhood training leads itself to a lack of sincerity. This can then cause others to question your integrity and self-worth.
Assertiveness Without Guilt
Another way for women to decrease the amount of apologizing they do is to practice being assertive without feeling bad for it. Assertiveness is the quickest way to get your needs met, as well as the needs of others, without coming across as passive or aggressive. Many women are confident, caring, tender, strong, and assertive without being pushy. However, when they silence their truths in order to appease others, they inadvertently create bigger problems by negating the power of their own words.
Jose` Harris said it best when he said…
“Never apologize for showing your feelings. When you do, you are apologizing for the truth.” It’s time for women to stand up, stand tall, and only offer an apology when one is actually needed.