This post is about a problem that mostly happens to women. Women tend to say “I’m sorry” when they shouldn’t. Let’s start with a little basic understanding of gender pressures. Women are generally considered the homemakers, the ones that make the home a happy, nice place to be. This pressure to be the caretaker of people’s happiness doesn’t end when we walk out our front door.
When women are involved in a business deal and they have to relay instructions or information that the party they are negotiating with won’t like they tend to say, “I’m sorry but…”. Ladies, this is a huge mistake. It puts you in an inferior position and causes you to lose credibility. Quite honestly, it makes you look weak, as if you didn’t have the personal strength to rely on your own firm decision but instead passed on someone else’s firm decision.
I sat in on a meeting that included some very high-powered women on both sides of the negotiations. I was devastated to hear, at various times, all three of the women who were there apologize. The meeting was about a signed contract. One side was trying to wiggle out of some of the requirements and the other side was holding them in place. At no point should the words “I’m sorry” have come into play.
As an example, a clause had been put in as a requirement by the finance department. The contract was signed with that clause in place. The company that was supposed to do the work didn’t feel it was necessary to get the contract required documentation and was trying to get out of that function. One of the ladies with the hiring firm said, “I’m sorry but that is a requirement from our finance department”.
No, no, no! There was nothing to be sorry about. She should have just said it was required by their finance department and had already been agreed to in the contract.
I’m sorry is appropriate if you knock over your coffee and it spills into someone’s lap or on their papers. I’m sorry is fine if you are not paying attention and bump into someone. But I’m sorry has no place in your conversation when you have to stand firm on issues.
On a side note, not a single man from either side said they were sorry about anything. Not even the ones who were trying to wiggle out of what they had already agreed to.