Leaders Coach Past the Reflexive “Sorry”

Do you—or someone on your team—say “sorry” a lot?

I’m not talking about apologies for infractions. Instead, I’m referring to the reflexive “sorry” uttered habitually when slightly late. Or smoothing the way after a potential minor offense.

There is some research that supports the idea that frequent use of the word “sorry” can negatively impact self-image and confidence. It can even project low confidence.

So, what to do for the polite and sincere person who finds frequent “sorries” creeping in?

Substitute a word of thanks.

Instead of…

“Sorry I’m late.”

“Sorry I didn’t get back to you in time.”

“Sorry I left my lunch dishes in your way, but I had a meeting.”

“Sorry I interrupted.”

“Sorry I didn’t tell you about that thing.”


“Thanks for waiting!”

“Thanks for your patience as I gathered my facts.”

“Thanks for putting up with my mess—I had to rush away. I’ll get yours next time.”

“I appreciate you letting me interrupt.” or “Thanks for not getting annoyed when I interrupted.”

“I wish I would have told you about that thing sooner; thanks for giving me a pass.”

What examples do you have?

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