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Break Free of the Apology Trap

You know it, other people know it, but you do it all the time- you say “Sorry” automatically and reflexively, all the time, everywhere for every little thing. Most of the time it is unnecessary, and it really doesn’t mean anything. Why are you sorry? Seriously, think about all the times you say sorry- when you walk into an elevator, you open a door and someone else is there. What kind of crazy is that?! You are not sorry. Why should you be? Cut it out!!!!!

Dr. Sylvia Lafair, therapist turned Leadership Coach, saidWords are like an x-ray of your inner thoughts. The words you choose and the way you use them are vital for your success.” The words that are automatic, like “Sorry” and words and phrases that minimize what you have to say are not serving you or your success. Your brilliance, your success, your influence, your confidence gets trapped inside of all that apologizing. It is as if you are sorry to take up space!

Think about it- notice how often you automatically and reflexively apologize. Likely many times throughout the day- when someone runs into you, when you walk into an elevator and where there are other people when you ask for someone to pass the salt when you have something to say in a conversation. It has been ingrained in each of us since we were on the playground and our parents taught us to be polite.

The problem is, you never matured from the time you were on the playground and your parents taught you to apologize for everything. You are still doing it. It is detrimental to your success and robs the world of the brilliant contribution you have to offer. Studies show that when you automatically apologize or are apologetic in your way of being, you are more likely to be passed over for a promotion and your opinion is not going to be valued.  And in sales—think about it- when you are going to buy something from someone and they are acting apologetic… does that entice you to buy?!

You CAN make the difference that you are here on this planet to make. Your career trajectory and your brilliance, your contribution, your influence can and will impact the world when you break yourself out of the apology trap. Be authentically you with no apology!


Janet Zaretsky, CPBA, CPMA, C-IQ COACH, is a master professional coach, author, and speaker who helps people unleash their brilliance, confidence, and visibility in the world. She is a speaker at the 2019 NACE Experience conference and will be presenting: Sorry, Not Sorry: How to Kick the Career-Crippling Habit of Reflexive Apologizing on Monday, July 15.

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