TZL 1464 (web)



Sorry, not sorry

I recently joined a Facebook group to help me navigate the labyrinth of college financial and merit aid. In big, bold letters at the front of the group there was a statement that requested people search carefully through the archives before posting a question. Pay attention to who apologizes and when, and work to create an environment of psychological safety within your firm.

I had a question, searched, but wasn’t satisfied that the answers exactly fit my situation, so I thought I’d make a new post. Hesitant, I started it with a preemptive apology – a “sorry if this has been asked before” preamble to my question. Interestingly enough, a woman later posted to the same group that she searched through the archives and there were 47 posts that started with some type of apology. Apologies such as, “This was a stupid question,” “If this has been asked before,” or “If I missed this in the archives.” Always sorry. And, interestingly, 45 of those 47 apologizers were women. This poster then argued that as parents gearing to send their children to college, we need to teach our girls to stop apologizing. Lean in, ladies! Am I right? I stopped and asked myself, “Why did I apologize?” What was I sorry about? The truth is, I was using my preemptive apology as a shield, hoping that it would

prevent anyone from countering my request for help with a rude “check the archives” response. I did not feel comfortable in this group and did not want my first interaction to be negative. I thought I’d ask other men and women, “Why do you start with an apology?” Most times, it’s a quick way to cut off rudeness, help others excuse your potential faux pas, or even help you gain connection through vulnerability. This illustrates that the apology may not actually come from a place where we are “sorry” but something else. As I started to explore this apology issue, I realized that perhaps people are not apologizing because they have low confidence. Could people (men and women) be apologizing because they don’t feel like they have the luxury of making a

Janki DePalma, LEED AP, CPSM



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