What I want to share in this blog post is an obstacle I overcame during my internship. Actually, it was more like quitting a bad habit to my benefit. In mid-July, our company’s marketing director asked me if I had any messages for her while she was out to lunch. I answered, “Sorry, I don’t have anything for you.” She paused in deep thought and silently motioned me to come over to her desk. “Kevin, you really need to break your habit of constantly apologizing,” is how she started the conversation after I sat down.
The marketing director (let’s call her Diane) expressed her concern about my apologetic manner. She believed that it had the potential to negatively impact my personal image not only inside the office but outside as well. Diane explained how the behavior could diminish my appearance during a period when I should be establishing myself among others. During my earlier years of working, I thought that saying sorry conveyed modesty and respect. No matter how effective or worthy my contributions were to the people I worked with, I always aimed to appear as humble as possible. However, I now realize that the habit may have weakened my character. Reflecting on my work experience, this consequence led to others not respecting my work, my knowledge, and for the most part, me.
Since that discussion, I made a tremendous effort to apologize less and display more ownership. One morning, Diane requested that I come with her to New Jersey and pick up an attorney, an old friend of my supervisor who assisted us with a contract, from Newark airport on Wednesday. I respectfully informed Diane that “I can’t come. I’ll be in Ann Arbor tomorrow and Wednesday.” I wanted my response to demonstrate my less apologetic conduct but in a respectful manner.
I would love to learn about everyone else’s perspective about this topic. Do you think apologizing excessively has a negative effect on your image at work and possibly outside of work? Is there someone in your office who has the same habit? What would you say to him or her?