If you’re someone who knows the value of a good apology, you’re way ahead of most people.
But if you apologize constantly for every little thing – whether or not it’s warranted – listen up. You may be standing in the way of your success. Because it weakens your presence and your confidence.
Presence is an elusive trait. It’s our ability to own the room. The Harvard Business Review describes it as “your ability to project mature self-confidence; a sense that you can take control of difficult, unpredictable situations, make tough decisions in a timely way, and hold your own with other talented and strong-willed team members.”
Presence is important because it shapes how colleagues perceive us. This impacts our ability to influence.
Presence is a combination of verbal cues, body language, and mindset. One of the actions you can take to improve your presence is to stop saying “sorry” when it’s not warranted. Our words impact how stakeholders perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Instead of apologizing, say the following phrases:
- 🙈 Instead of: “Sorry to bother you”
- 💪 Say: “Do you have a minute?”
- 🙈 Instead of: “Sorry, I messed up”
- 💪 Say: “I’ll fix that now”
- 🙈 Instead of: “Sorry, I didn’t realize”
- 💪 Say: “Thanks for pointing that out”
- 🙈 Instead of: “Sorry, I didn’t understand”
- 💪 Say: “Can you help me understand?”
- 🙈 Instead of: “I’m sorry, but I disagree.”
- 💪 Say: “That’s an interesting perspective. Here’s how I was thinking of it.”
In addition, own your voice by getting rid of qualifiers like “actually,” “quickly,” or “just.” For example: “I actually have an idea,” “I just think that…” or “I have a quick question.”
- “Just” demeans what you have to say. It shrinks your power and influence.
- “Actually” communicates a sense of surprise that you have something to contribute.
- “Quickly” assumes by default you’re imposing on others.
Don’t minimize yourself. Trust yourself and share your ideas. A seemingly simple change can have a powerful impact.