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ThriveGlobal: Sorry, Not Sorry: Why We Need to Stop Apologizing

Read Sorry, Not Sorry: Why We Need to Stop Apologizing by Jen Fischer, from Thrive Global, June 15, 2021.

Read 4 Steps to Boost Psychological Safety at Your Workplace by Amy C. Edmondson and Per Hugander, from Harvard Business Review, June 22, 2021.

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


ThriveGlobal: Sorry, Not Sorry: Why We Need to Stop Apologizing

Read Sorry, Not Sorry: Why We Need to Stop Apologizing by Jen Fischer, from Thrive Global, June 15, 2021.

In my new office, we have an intern who leads almost all of her sentences with “I’m sorry…” I’ve noticed she does it when she shows up on-time, or has an important question to ask, or when she just puts her folders on the table we are sitting at.

So, really nothing t o be sorry about. She’s just working like everyone else. But she is compelled to say she’s sorry for being there. Or taking up space. Or feeling less than for some reason.

I pointed this out to her, gently, the other day. She said it was a habit she knew about but couldn’t figure out how to stop.

But there’s a reason we need to be aware of empty apologies. The author Jen Fisher points out “over-apologizing comes at a cost. First, it weakens the sentiment in those instances when it’s actually warranted. And second, it makes us appear less confident, which can in turn make us less confident.

So how can we stop apologizing as a reflex and reclaim the power of the apology for when we really need it? If you’re an over-apologizer, don’t apologize! Here are nine ways we can all up our apology game.”

 1. Know when not to apologize

2. Make adjustments if you need to

If you find yourself apologizing for one particular thing, go to the source of the problem. Maybe there is a small change you can make that will save you from having to say you’re sorry. For instance, if you find yourself constantly running late (one of the most common apology triggers), you may need to rethink the way you’re scheduling your days or managing your calendar. 

3. Be open and honest

4. Learn from it 

5. Laugh about it

6. Empathy is better than sympathy

Sympathy is saying, “I’m sorry that happened.” Empathy is saying, “It sounds like that was really difficult for you.” There’s nothing wrong with sympathy, but empathy is a powerful way to open up a conversation and deepen a relationship. We can also draw on our empathy to proactively stop someone else from feeling the need to apologize. If there’s a baby crying during a meeting, saying, “I feel just like she does today!” can ease the discomfort being felt by the mother or father.

7. Try gratitude

8. Don’t apologize for self-care 

9. Give yourself and others a little grace

As our society begins to open back up and people begin to return to the workplace, it’s not always going to go smoothly. People are going to have different comfort levels about masks, social distancing, and simply being around other people again. So give yourself some grace. Don’t feel the need to apologize for doing what you need to do to be comfortable. And extend that grace outward, too, since we don’t always know what challenges others are dealing with.

It’s been a difficult year for everybody. And there are going to be plenty of times when we really do need to apologize. So let’s not be sorry about maintaining the power of such an important tool by not overusing it.

Continue Sorry, Not Sorry: Why We Need to Stop Apologizing by Jen Fischer, from Thrive Global, June 15, 2021.


Harvard Business Review: 4 Steps to Boost Psychological Safety at Your Workplace

Read 4 Steps to Boost Psychological Safety at Your Workplace by Amy C. Edmondson and Per Hugander, from Harvard Business Review, June 22, 2021.

When I first read the headline, I was intrigued by the topic. What is psychological safety and what does it have to work with the workplac?

According to the authors Edmonson and Hugander, “Creating psychological safety — the confidence that candor and vulnerability are welcome — in a workplace is truly challenging and takes an unusual degree of commitment and skill.

“It’s natural for people to hold back ideas, be reluctant to ask questions, and shy away from disagreeing with the boss. Given this tendency, the free exchange of ideas, concerns, and questions is routinely hindered — far more often than most managers realize. To reverse it takes focus and effort; it’s a process of helping people develop new beliefs and behaviors, and none of it is easy or natural.”

The authors offer four ways managers can create and sustain a place where candor and vulnerability are maintained. It’s possible but takes diligence and purposeful behaviors.

Focus on performance

First, emphasize what most executives want: performance. Building a psychologically safe work environment starts with shifting the narrative of the intervention from culture change or interpersonal skills in order to make the case that the quality and candor of conversation matters for results. This is not an abstract claim: Achieving performance in knowledge-intensive work relies on integrating the ideas and expertise of multiple people, which requires a willingness to speak candidly in a timely manner.

Train both individuals and teams

Per’s experience as a basketball player and coach revealed that winning teams undergo two kinds of training: individual skills (drilling, shooting) and team practice (complex games that involve real-time coordination using these skills, along with decisions about when to pass, shoot, or dribble). 

Incorporate visualization

Visualization is used in various settings ranging from athletes seeking to break a world record to therapists helping individuals alter troubling behaviors. Similarly, in the weekly sessions Per led at SEB, participants were asked to visualize recent situations where they had been successful at perspective-taking, speaking candidly, or creating an atmosphere where others were able to engage fully.

Normalize vulnerability related to work

It’s normal to experience mild anxiety as a consequence of feeling vulnerable. Research on anxiety training shows that practicing small acts of vulnerability reduces that anxiety. Analogously, Amy has worked with executives to help them discover that being open (hence, vulnerable) did not result in harm, allowing them to keep increasing the magnitude of the interpersonal risks they felt able to take.

“Building capabilities related to psychological safety and perspective taking cannot be considered “basic” but is increasingly a vital part of achieving excellence in challenging business contexts.” I know that plan to incorporate some of these skills with new staff I plan to work with in the next few months. What can you do in your own workplace to create a psychologically safe environment?

Read 4 Steps to Boost Psychological Safety at Your Workplace by Amy C. Edmondson and Per Hugander, from Harvard Business Review, June 22, 2021.


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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