76. Stop Apologizing ― Write it Right Part 1

Show Notes | September 24, 2020 | Episode 76

There are some words in your email and chat vocabulary you should NEVER use at work. No. We’re not talking about LOL and JK. These words are much sneakier and are covertly sabotaging your career.   

One of the biggest tools you’ll use in the remote and virtual workplace is email and chat. In this two-part series, we’ll identify words you should be eliminating in your day-to-day communications with your remote team. 

Hot words people use a lot that intentionally, or unintentionally, communicate their emotions or incompetencies include:

  • Sorry 
  • Fine
  • Just
  • I think 

We’re going to point out some of the worst of the worst and explain which words are truly sabotaging your career. 

First of all, stop apologizing. 

Often, when someone sends a chat and you’re away at lunch you can be tempted to say, “Sorry, I was at lunch,” or if your calendars don’t align, “I’m sorry, I can’t seem to make it that day.” 

The true meaning of an apology should be realized when you’ve actually done something wrong. If you owe someone an apology, you should pick up the phone and make a personal call to apologize. 

When we throw around apologies and the words, “I’m sorry” in casual chat, we are devaluing the meaning of a true apology. 

But that’s not even the worst part. Every time you slide “sorry” into a sentence, you’re submitting that the situation is somehow your fault. 

Next time you are tempted to use “sorry” in an email or chat, try swapping it for a different phrase like, “Thank you for [fill in the blank].”

Instead of, “I’m sorry I’m not available. How about Thursday?” Try, “Thank you for taking the time to schedule this meeting. I’m not available at that time. How about Thursday?”

You will notice a world of difference in the way you see yourself and the way you present yourself to your remote coworkers.   

A key factor of effective communication is to extract sabotaging language and replace it with architect language. 

For a refresher on architect language, listen to episode 11 of the VirtForce podcast “You are what you speak” with Mark England, linked in the show notes below.

Why do we accidentally overuse “I’m sorry?” It is our intent to take responsibility of the situation and that misplaced intent sends us down the wrong path. 

For workplace relationships, you have to learn to interpret whether it was meant to be your responsibility or not. In most cases, it’s not. 

Some would say the overuse of “sorry” is a people pleasing tendency, but it can also be a sign of wanting to take ownership in the workplace. 

So, what is the difference between responsibility and ownership? 

In the workplace, responsibility is defined by tasks, objectives and activities that are assigned to you as part of your job that will not get done without you. 

Ownership is an expression of leadership. It is achievable when you have reached a level of excellence in your own work, so you can then develop and lead others. 

Knowing how your work impacts the whole organization helps you develop vision and the ability to guide and advise your colleagues. 

The bottom line is, don’t dump needless apologies into every sentence. Break that habit! Pull “I’m sorry” out of your emails, chats and text vocabulary, and start communicating at a higher level. 

Once you eliminate this saboteur from your email and text you will then begin to cut it out of your verbal vocabulary, and take ownership of your career as a mature professional. 

If you are a new listener to VirtForce podcast, we would love to hear from you. Please email support@virtforce.wpengine.com and let us know how we can help you today.

Links and Resources

11. “You are what you speak” with Mark England

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Kimber Hill LinkedIn

MilSpouse CoffeeHouse Podcast

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Resume Boot Camp
Freemium Course (Episodes 47-60): https://bit.ly/RBCEp47
Premium: http://bit.ly/vf-bc

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