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6 Times Saying Sorry at Work is a Bad Idea

Jan 23, 2018

It's a five-letter word that may sound right coming out of Justin Bieber's mouth, but should you really be using it at work?

Always apologising at work? Let Communicate Better talk you through when you should (and shouldn't) be saying sorry at work.

1. When you're not really sorry

Sounds easy, right? Despite what Elton John may tell us, sorry is usually the easiest word in the dictionary if we're wanting to get out of a sticky situation.

But beware! An insincere apology can stick out like a sore thumb and your boss is going to be able to tell if you don't mean it.

Remember what happened to the boy who cried wolf? Everyone stopped believing him – even in situations when an apology was genuine. So not only does it affect your credibility, constant overuse could also lessen the effect it has going forward. Only say sorry if you mean it.

2. When you know you're doing the right thing

Lack of self-confidence can be ugly. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will.

And if it's a matter of having a different opinion on a matter, having an alternative viewpoint on something can never be a bad thing.

Some of the greatest business ideas have originated from new ideas and if your employer (or you as a boss) isn't/aren't accepting of other people's ideas... you may be left feeling out of place.

Saying sorry for having an opinion (or changing it based on others), will only reduce your level of authority. Have an opinion, and then own it!

3. When you don't have anything to be sorry for

Again, stop saying sorry!!

Next time you're about to say sorry without thinking – ask yourself; do I have anything to be sorry for?

An apology is often a product of habit, and habits can be broken.

4. When you take a day off work

Here's one many people are often unsure about.

If you're accustomed to pulling the odd sickie, you'll be familiar with the unnecessary guilt that follows.

An apology is usually thrown in the air, whether it’s for leaving your boss short-staffed, delaying a deadline or missing a meeting.

But no matter what your reason for taking a day off is (from holiday to sickness) – you shouldn’t have to say sorry. In fact, you’re entitled to both holiday and sick days, so there’s no need to feel bad about taking them.

5. When you're pointing out an invisible problem

This apology is usually fired before anything has really happened.

As an evolutionary defence mechanism, we often try to avoid conflict and keep ourselves out of the firing line. But you may want to wait for an issue to arise before you drop to your knees and grovel.

What you may learn over time, is that mistakes can often be rectified without much damage and nobody need ever know.

6. When you need help

You should always feel comfortable in asking for help. If you don't, you're in the wrong job.

If you find that a task has taken longer than you thought, or it has ended up being more complex than you realised – saying sorry might be the most polite thing to do. Save everyone some time and get help. But don't be sorry for reaching out for help.

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