You Asked, We Answered: Stop Apologising So Much!

03 July 2014 by

[Getty] Our Community Editor, Holly Peacock gives channelling Lena Headey a go…

Each month we ask our followers on Facebook and Twitter to suggest something for us to try out and report back on. It can be anything from a new approach to relationships or a career challenge to a new lifestyle change or fashion trend. Community Editor, Holly Peacock will be testing it out and feeding back so that you, dear Grazia Daily reader, can try it out too (or not, depending on the results)...

This month you asked me to stop apologising so much. The suggestion came alongside Pantene’s new video called ‘Not Sorry’, which since its release has since sparked a lot of conversation and racked up over two million views. It features several women apologising throughout the day from a professional environment to just apologising to strangers.

Once I saw the video I actually cringed at how accurate it was and wrote about it for Grazia Daily. But highlighting the issue and living it out are two very different things.

So, for one week I gave it a go.

Having only started at the lovely Grazia office a few months ago, I’ve inevitably been living out the role of the office newbie. This of course, entails asking my team a question every three minutes.

My paranoia at how annoying this might become for my very patient desk buddies has led me to regurgitate the following two questions in a somewhat incessant fashion; ‘Sorry, annoying question but...’ and the classic ‘Sorry this is probably really stupid question but...’   

Next on the list is the fact I have a Geordie accent. It’s deemed friendly most of the time but we are inherently equipped with an abundance of sarcasm, dry wit and a no nonsense attitude. So I’m acutely aware that I may, when I least expect it, rub someone up the wrong way.

Day one was excruciating and involved a lot of bum squirming.  The habit, I came to realise, was pretty ingrained. I had to cheat a few times by sending an email minus the word sorry but with the addition of  ‘XXX’ firmly placed on the end - coupled with the subject line  ‘DON’T HATE ME’ (ok, not really but the temptation was there)

After realising that not only did no one care but, to my knowledge, they didn’t take offence to my lack of apologising either (they were probably relieved). Of course, it could all be down to the fact I have lovely colleagues but there were definitely some things I noticed happen to me as a result.

Prior to my #sorrynotsorry pledge, I was blushing frequently. The moment I stopped apologising, I suddenly felt more confident. No longer undermining myself, the red flushes stopped.

I also noticed a very important difference in the vocabulary I chose. Without the option of padding out a simple request with a flurry of niceties and waffle I gained clarity when I spoke.

Given I now work in a mostly-female environment, I showed Pantene’s ‘Not Sorry’ video to my boyfriend who is an Account Director at an advertising agency. At this point I should probably add that we used to work together in advertising and he was instrumental in many of the brave moments in my career.  

However, unaware of the task I had been set, I asked him to watch the Pantene video and tell me what he thought. Of course, he started by giving his professional analysis of the execution but once prompted on his view of the message he immediately said ‘I see the point, it’s an issue but it’s a bit patronising. Also, the woman who stops the guy mid presentation to say ‘I have a question, why don’t we go back to the original thing that we did?’’ was just being rude. I would never say that in a meeting’

After some arguing and me accusing him of being blind to his own directness (it got heated if you haven’t guessed by now) I did have to consider that it’s not always the best approach to be so direct. Unfortunately, in my experience I think women do need to be more direct than men to be taken seriously.

Thinking back on my career I can pinpoint a few moments when in retrospect I should have spoken up but I didn’t through fear of coming across as rude.

When I was told to flirt with client on a work engagement, when I was told I was on a pitch just to even out the male to female ratio and when I was labelled ‘too emotional’ in reaction to a work issue which was only dealt with when experienced by, you guessed it, a male colleague. Now however, I wish I had braved the risk of offending someone by telling them to, er, get stuffed. (And that I wasn’t sorry).

Although this has nothing to do with apologising it definitely contributes to the fact that I've been tiptoeing around issues in case I hurt someone’s feelings - whether that’s saying sorry or saying nothing at all. Is this just a female trait? I can’t decide...

What do you think? Watch the Pantene video above and tweet us your thoughts @Grazia_Live  


Comments

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Paola Bassanese Energya (Thu Jul 10 18:54:09 BST 2014): Very good - why do us women apologise even when we get pushed (on a train etc)? "Sorry" is often used as an icebreaker, as shown in the video, but it is loaded with negative emotions. We can all choose words wisely and change our thought patterns