It started with a conversation at work a week before I headed to a conference. This was back in pre-Covid times and the situation seemed innocent enough. I’d simply asked a colleague to read an email I’d drafted. In the email I’d used the word sorry and she quickly recommended I remove it from my message. You see she’d read something suggesting women overuse the word sorry in their communications and it was impacting how their messages were landing. 

Then I arrived at the conference where the words ‘Not Sorry’ were plastered everywhere. From the workbook to the merchandise, the words were gracing everything. 

Finally, as I headed home from said conference I read not one but two books that called out the overuse of the word sorry by women. 

Now, sometimes the Universe moves mysteriously. Other times it operates a little more bluntly. I find it tends to take the blunter approach when it wants to reinforce messages. This little flurry of reminders was enough to make me recognise that the Universe was trying to tell me something. So I decided it was time to examine my use of the word sorry. 

Once I returned to work I became super conscious of my language. And it turns out that despite my senior role, my coaching qualifications and my years of experience, I was saying sorry all of the time. And like any less than great habit, it turns out breaking it was easier said than done. Here’s what worked for me. 

Tips for breaking up with the word sorry

One. Journalling

I journalled on why I was using sorry so much. And surprise, surprise. All of the universal fears related to not being liked came up. I didn’t want to appear rude. I wanted to soften my answer for whoever was receiving my response. I wanted to preserve every relationship. I realised I was using the word sorry as a way of keeping me safe. But it was also keeping me small. It seemed I was apologising for simply being. All of these revelations gave me a powerful why for reducing my use of sorry. 

Two. Self correction whenever I said sorry

Unless I was using the word sorry in its sincerest form, I immediately corrected myself every time I heard the word came out of my mouth. Initially that meant I was doing a whole lot of catching and correcting myself. But like anything, the more I practised using more intentional language the easier it got. Oh, and I ruthlessly edited the word sorry out of everything I wrote before it landed in my sent items. 

Three. Reminders

Yep, I stuck a post it note with the words ‘Are you sure you’re sorry?’ to my computer screen. And I pinned a Not Sorry postcard to the wall next to my desk. Does that sound a bit basic? Maybe. But regular reminders of my goal to reduce my use of the word sorry supported me. Sometimes the simple things really do work.

Do you also need to say sorry less often? Let me know know in the comments section below.

And until next time – stay fabulous.

Warmest, Janelle

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