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4 responses that beat ‘I’m sorry’

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

People tend to use “I’m sorry” too much, and that causes two big problems: the speaker looks less confident and it reduces the impact of a genuine, warranted apology. Stop using the phrase so much, and instead say the following in these situations:

You need to ask a question. Never apologize for needing more information. Instead, just ask it.

You need to voice a negative opinion. As long as you do it with tact, you should share your feedback, especially when it will prevent the team from making a bad decision. Don’t preface comments with “I’m sorry, but …” Instead, say “Here are my concerns …, and this is how I think we can improve the idea/plan.”

Someone asks you to clarify a point. You may not be to blame, so don’t blurt out “I’m sorry I confused you.” Instead, say: “Sure …” and then repeat your statements.

You show up late. No need to offer up a litany of excuses. Just dive into the topic with: “Thank you for being so patient. I know your time is precious, so let’s get started.”

— Adapted from “5 Things to Say in Awkward Situations Instead of ‘I’m Sorry,’” Nicole Lapin, The Huffington Post, www.huffingtonpost.com.

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