Why I (and All Women) Need to Stop Apologizing

During a recent meeting at work, I frantically ran in the conference room – five minutes late – because for some reason, my Outlook pop-up reminder failed to well, pop up. Luckily, the meeting was a 1:1 with my new boss, who’s already become a great mentor for me in just a few short weeks. 

I fumbled into the room, sat down, and began profusely apologizing that I was late. She looked at me said, “You need to stop apologizing so much!”

At first it caught me off guard — no one had ever told me that before. But as she elaborated on how I always apologized for emailing late at night, sharing a document later than planned, or my busy schedule, I realized many of those things are out of my control and are not things I should be sorry for. She had a real point!

So…I Googled it. And apparently women over-apologizing is a real thing. So much so, that Pantene launched an entire campaign dedicated to women saying “I’m sorry” too much, and many great op-eds have been penned.

So why do we do it? The articles I’ve read say that women find things offensive more easily than men, and have a greater fear of being rude. We apologize when something we did wasn’t wrong, or when we have to be candid about something someone else did that was wrong. And I think that’s true — the last thing we ever want to be called is a “bitch,” right?

I think it also goes back to something I learned from hearing Sheryl Sandberg speak about her book, “Lean In.” We often call girls bossy, as if it’s a bad thing. But bosses are leaders, mobilizers and inspirers. In other words, bosses get shit done. Why do we, as women, feel guilty for that? 

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you can go around the office being a reckless bitch. But there’s something to be said for knowing when to apologize. And I’m grateful that someone called me out on that.

My new resolution? To think twice before saying sorry. Am I really sorry? And does this warrant a sorry? Even in the just the few days I’ve had this “sorry” epiphany, I’ve caught myself typing and deleting that word more times than I can count. 

In summary, I’m not sorry. And I hope you are, too.


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