Stop for a second and try to recall the last time you said sorry to someone. Was it yesterday? Today? Or even just a few minutes ago? If you’re a woman, the chances are pretty high that it wasn’t that long ago. As Midol Partner, Maja Jovanovic, Ph.D., explains in her book, Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing, women are inherent people-pleasers who apologize all the time — sometimes without even realizing it — as a result of internal barriers such as imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and distaste for confrontation. The thing is though, it doesn’t have to be this way. Just like checking your phone or not washing your face before bed, saying sorry is a habit. And just like any other habit, it can be unlearned with a little time, patience, and practice. In partnership with Midol for the brand’s new campaign, “Stop Apologizing. Period,” we’re sharing six tips to help you live a fully unapologetic life.
1. When you make a mistake, own it instead of profusely apologizing for it.
Everyone makes mistakes. That’s just life. But ask yourself: How often do you really hear men aggressively apologizing when they mess up? With that in mind, instead of saying sorry for an honest human error, next time try saying something like, “Thank you for catching that mistake” or “There was an error in the previous email, but it’s now been corrected.” Ultimately, you never want to undermine your authority, and that’s exactly what apologizing can do — especially in a career setting. So long as you’re upfront, honest, and tactful, there shouldn’t be an issue.
2. Convey appreciation after venting to someone rather than apologizing for your feelings.
Far too often, women apologize simply for expressing an emotion, whether that be anger, sadness, or exasperation. It’s worth noting that this is especially common when women are menstruating and more prone to mood swings from PMS. Next time you need to vent or tell someone how you’re feeling, instead of apologizing for it, extend your gratitude to the person who’s giving you an ear. For instance, try statements like, “Thank you so much for listening” or “I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to vent.” This is a great way to give someone credit for being a good listener without discrediting or de-valuing your own feelings.
3. If you’re a few minutes late, thank your company for being patient rather than playing the sorry card.
Look, if you’re more than 15 minutes late, it’s fine to apologize for making people wait. After all, no one wants to come across as rude. But if you’re only a few minutes late, forget the apology and simply thank your guests for being patient and understanding. This demonstrates that you respect their time, but it doesn’t weaken your authority.
4. Stop saying sorry when you need clarification.
Typically when women need further clarification on something, they start their statement or question with — you guessed it — an apology. For instance, “Sorry, can you repeat that?” or “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you explain?” Jovanovic’s best tip here is to simply remove the sorry from your statement or inquiry altogether. Asking someone to further explain is nothing to be ashamed of, folks, and it most definitely doesn’t require an apology. “Can you explain that again?” will do just fine.
5. When you don’t have an answer, say you’ll look into it rather than apologizing for not knowing.
No one has the answer to everything all of the time, and you know what? It’s absolutely nothing to be sorry about. Next time you don’t have the right information to give someone, instead of apologizing, simply say: “That’s a great question, I’ll get back to you on that.” Additionally, you can try something like, “I love your question, and I want to give it the consideration it deserves, so I’ll get back to you on that.” Both of these are thoughtful responses that show you care about finding an answer — without undermining your abilities.
6. Avoid using tentative statements.
Believe it or not, using phrases such as, “I’m not totally sure” and “I might be wrong about this” are both similar to apologizing in that they plant a seed of doubt in someone’s mind. “These phrases act as weakeners, undercutting our credibility and message,” says Jovanovic. “They are tentative statements that create a sense that we are unsure ourselves of what we’re saying.” These statements are also referred to as minimizers, modifiers, disclaimers, softeners, or caveats, and they do women zero good. While Jovanovic doesn’t expect you to cut them out completely, she highly recommends doing your best to minimize your use of them in order to sound more confident and sure of yourself.
Join the #NoApologiesPeriod movement, and check out Midol’s video below inviting women and menstruators everywhere to stop saying sorry for having a period. Period.