5 Things to Say Instead of “I’m sorry, but”

I’m sorry, but can you please get that paper work done?
I’m sorry, but did you ever email our advisor…?
I’m sorry to bother you, but do you know when you’ll have that done?

Sound familiar? We have all done it. Many of us feel like we are bothering someone when we should be owning a leadership role. But apologizing for trying to be effective in your role as manager, leader, or teammate doesn’t help anyone! It diminishes your own authority, as well as the importance of the job you do. Your job is important!!

But we know that to break a habit, we often need to replace it with something new. So here are 5 things you can say instead of “I’m sorry” when you aren’t.

“Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.”

We often say “I’m sorry” when we mean to say “thank you.” So jump right to the gratitude. You’re not apologizing for giving them a task or inconveniencing them in some way. You’re asking them for something and making sure they know that you feel grateful for it. I am more inclined to do something that isn’t presented to me as a chore, but as something that makes my work more appreciated.

Try: Can you please fill out this form? Thank you so much, I really appreciate this.

This is due in 2 weeks. How can we make this happen?

Using ‘we’ automatically gives them ownership of a task with you, instead of someone helping you with YOUR needs. When you feel personally invested in a task getting completed, you’re more likely to care to get it done at all.

Giving a due date snaps the task into perspective. It’s priority, and someone is expecting it at a certain time. This can’t get swept under the rug.

“How can I support you?”

I use this one a lot. Sometimes, instead of nagging someone over and over for something they keep not doing, it’s better to just ask them if they need any support with the task. It’s possible something big is affecting their ability to get it done. They might say yes and tell you what they need. Or, they know you’ve noticed their lack of progress and start taking it more seriously. They will respect that you offered assistance instead of more badgering.

Checking in

Sometimes, a quick email or note during a meeting to “check in” on the progress of a project is the only one needs. Asking for an update merely shows your interest in the project. But for the other person, their ego becomes intertwined with the outcome of the task. Suddenly, being responsible will make them feel they must prioritize it.

Start with a compliment

This is a great one from Business Insider. Don’t be sorry you’re asking for assistance! Try instead starting with a kind word.

Your emails are always on point to our advisor. Can you read over what I wrote?

Being a great leader in your community means that people want to do the work with you. Nobody wants to be led by someone who feels that they are a nuisance for existing. A great leader holds everyone else accountable because he or she knows that each person has the potential to do amazing work.

Reserve being sorry for times you’ve done something wrong, or hurt someone’s feelings. That’s when it counts. Any other time, be the grateful, assertive, kind leader that you are.

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