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  • Writer's pictureKristen Herring-Asleson

Stop Saying You're Sorry!

A lot of what is written about in this column is pulled from or based on personal experiences. Storytelling and sharing experiences, in hopes of helping or giving strength to readers, is incredibly impactful. After last week’s column about my breast cancer journey, many readers reached out to thank me for sharing what is incredibly personal.

Pulling from other personal experiences, this week's topic is volunteer work. Last summer, for the first time, I joined a committee to help plan our town festival. Within the larger committee are people who volunteer to head-up a certain portion or aspect, and I found myself organizing and coordinating the festival parade.

I know nothing -- absolutely nothing -- about organizing a parade. The former volunteer had notes, and a list of previous participants, so I was not left completely in the dark thankfully. After a week or two of procrastinating, forms were created, sign-up sheets were distributed online, and parade units began to register.

At the end of the weekend, the parade went beautifully and smoothly and was well-received by crowds of people lining both sides of the streets. Needless to say, there were a few hiccups that resulted in people sharing opinions of all sorts. After listening to complaints and rumors, I wrote a letter for anyone to read that straightened out a few untruths. Nowadays, people are "keyboard warriors" with no fear of what they put in writing because they think they will never have to apologize or be held accountable. I received a phone call Monday night from a woman I do not know, and she called to apologize for something she had said. In today’s world, that takes a lot of courage, and I respect her for it.

Can you imagine today’s world if everyone who makes a mistake would take accountability for it and strive toward fixing it?

There is one place that apologies and the word "sorry" has lost its meaning, and that’s at work. How many times have you heard, or you yourself have prefaced, a sentence with the word sorry? “Sorry, but I can’t make that meeting.” “Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, but ...” “Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Is it time to stop apologizing for issues out of your control or something that really isn’t your fault?

To many, perceptions are reality, and constantly saying “sorry” can give the wrong impression. Unless you are trying to give off the vibe of being weak and submissive, then keep it in your vocabulary.

Be strong and confident in your words. Show how secure you are with you and your work performance. If the printer is broken, it is not your fault unless you physically picked it up and slammed it to the ground. If you are called into a last-minute meeting, and you aren’t prepared for it, do not apologize. If you called that meeting, do not expect others to apologize either. Are there times at work when one should apologize? Absolutely, and that is what everyone who holds a job should get back to and recognize. According to, here is an “apology formula” for the workplace:

  • Apologize for something specific to the person or people who were impacted.

  • Acknowledge that you understand how your actions affected them.

  • Explain where you were coming from without it sounding like an excuse.

  • State an action plan for how you will solve any problems your actions may have created.

Now imagine, again if you will, how a workplace without insincere apologies would be? It would be a step in the right direction to creating a better work environment.

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