6/23/2015 UPDATE: I update this post to bring to your attention When An Apology is Anything But by Sloane Crosley, appearing in today’s New York Times’ op-ed page.
We need to say what we need and want, directly, forthrightly–and without apology.
Today’s Wednesday Word features a great piece by Tory Paez on a word that women, in particular, should not use in business communication.
And that word is, “Sorry.”
Her post, Five Things to Say Instead of “Sorry”, is a great reminder of the care we should take when we speak. Even seemingly innocuous words and phrases can shape perceptions.
To be precise, we should always be wiling to express apology when showing actual remorse for an actual offense. But if we say “sorry” as verbal filler for everything, then the actual word “sorry” will mean nothing. Also, we undermine ourselves–especially women–when we apologize for no reason. It robs power from our speech.
Paez lists five examples of women saying the word needlessly, and adds other options to use instead. I would add also a sixth example to her list: Saying “Sorry?” when one either doesn’t hear or doesn’t understand what is being said to him or her. For example, a person says to me, “Here’s the report,” and I say in turn, “Sorry?”
In the example above, I am attempting to express that I can’t hear or can’t understand her. OK. Why apologize for that?
Exactly. In this case, simply say “Pardon?” instead.
I share Paez’s post not only because it’s great advice but also because it’s a verbal tic I must guard against, too. I dislike rude people and strive to be unfailingly polite. But always saying “sorry” is unnecessary.
One can be polite without apology, and without needlessly apologizing. So strike “sorry” from your vocabulary when you don’t mean it.
And that’s your Wednesday Word.