Ah, the Apology Battle

Apologies. Everything has something to say about them. Including me, last year. Lena Dunham just published Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, a rebuttal, Dear Lena, stop telling me to stop saying sorry was quickly published in US Today by Lindsay Deutsch. Apologies are a popular battle ground, especially for women – right up there with swearing (some insist on abstaining and other insist it means you’re smarter).

I was doing a training a couple months ago where we were discussing apologies as part of a well-rounded skill set. We wandered off into a similar discussion being had by Dunham and Deutsch about apologies in the workplace and gender. One of the women asked about apologizing when it seems more and more like women are being told not to apologize. In response, one of the men in the training made the observation that maybe we should be looking at it the other way – rather than telling women to apologize less, we should be encouraging men to apologize more.

Apologies (and swearing!) can be powerful, and it’s dangerous to completely eliminate them from your vocabulary. Like most things, we shouldn’t always or never. There is a time and place for everything, and as Dunham so eloquently points out:

“One of the most important things a person in charge can do is own their mistakes and apologize sincerely and specifically, in a way that shows their colleagues they have learned and they will do better.” – Lena Dunham 


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