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"The Salt" (Blog)

Hold the Sorry

In the event you find yourself constantly apologizing, stop and consider the message you are really sending. At the point of overuse, sorry can and will become tiresome. Sorry is best used when expressing feelings of sympathy, pity, remorse, grief, or sorrow. When the word is used as an excuse for a lack of results, it by definition doesn’t make sense. This holds especially true in the workplace.

In many cases the habit of saying sorry is seen simply as a sorry habit. This real source of this habit is the person’s lack of accountability which can and should cost the person their job. It sounds a bit harsh but a person who struggles with accountability issues costs their team, investors, consumers, and company time, money and effort. In a time where organizations are seeking to become “leaner” by weeding out impediments, the sorriest person will most likely be the first to go.

The next time you feel the need to offer up an unjust sorry, hold on to it. Instead, offer a reason and propose a solution to the issue at hand. The difference between a reason and an excuse is not as trivial as you may think. In the workplace; a reason is a purpose or a cause that allows your employer or the person you are answering to, the opportunity to understand what stopped you from completing the given task or assignment. This allowance gives the employer the chance to assess your problem, make helpful suggestions or offer assistance in the areas causing the issue. Following up the reason with a proposed solution gives the impression that you can, know how, and will fix the mistake and have thought about it enough to already have a process to resolve the issue. An excuse is almost the same as an apology and it gives no implication that you have given the task any further thought passed the minimum effort required. I once had a coach who in the 2 years of his tenure offered one quote that actually made sense to me. In regards to excuses he’d always yell out “Excuses are like a** holes, everyone’s got one and they all stink.”

Sorry just isn't good enough because action and results are better. Here are a few basic tips to keep you out of the position of feeling the need to say sorry.

Work on daily perfection both personally and professionally. That is to actually get to know yourself and strengths. Once you know your true strengths your weaknesses can become your point of emphasis. Weakness are not things you can’t do, they are things you’re not as good doing.

Know when to put something aside or when to say no. In the workplace it is almost often better to know what you realistically can do verses what you cannot. The whole under promise and over deliver principle fits here. If you cannot perform the task due to a lack of time or know how, admit your concern(s), ask for help, or do not accept it. Eventually the weight of the task will collapse on you anyway. Why sacrifice your reputation for ego? 

Practice the art of long deliberation. In other words, don’t be too quick to commit. Know what the task will require of you before you accept it, know who is involved and learn what the expected outcome is. Look over these pieces of information two or three times and then seek counsel.

Have integrity and don’t be careless. Once you establish an approach or process that works, be consistent. Give tasks or assignments 100% of your effort, 100% of the time.

Place an emphasis on preparation. Planning and preparation with an adherence to the time given to deliver the expected result will rarely let you down unless you allow it to turn into procrastination.

I hope this article is helpful and saves a job or two. For those suffering from the habit of saying sorry, I leave you with this quote to ponder. “Open your eyes before it is too late. Not all who see have opened their eyes, nor all who look, see.”- Baltasar Gracián