Want to be taken seriously? Stop using this word right now

How to Stay Focused at Work
How to Stay Focused at Work

Do you say "sorry" too much? And, is this hindering your reputation as a serious leader or contributor at work?

If you are overly concerned about pleasing people and and not disappointing others, then you probably over use "sorry." So, why do you say "sorry" when you really shouldn't? Many people subconsciously feel like apologies and excuses minimize the potential disappointment the receiver might feel.

So, are you an over user of "sorry"? If you consistently identify with any or all of the following situations, "sorry" should be removed immediately from your vocabulary of most frequently used words:

You are in a meeting and disagree with your colleague. So, you say, "I'm sorry, but I disagree..." before stating your opinion.

You are unable commit to a new and non-required project at work because you are slammed, so you decline and say something like, "I'm sorry, I'm so busy, and I cannot take on another project. So sorry about that. Sorry!"

You have a new job and your coworker comes by your desk and invites you to happy hour after work with a group of your new coworkers. You don't want to go because you are exhausted and just don't have the energy for it. So, you say: "I'm so sorry, but I have to pick my daughter up at school. I wish I could go with you guys. Sorry, next time!" Oops, you don't even have a child. Wrong excuse!

A man is walking towards you while looking at his phone. He runs smack dab into you. This is clearly his fault. You say "sorry" and he does not.

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You have to reschedule dinner plans with a friend because you have a deadline to meet. You text her and apologize profusely for having to bail. You text her when you get home over apologizing again.

It doesn't matter if you lead a company, team, or are an aspiring leader, saying "sorry" when it's not actually necessary minimizes and devalues your commitments, opinions, experiences, and beliefs.

5 Ways to Stop Over Using "Sorry?"

1) Keep a tally on how many times you say "sorry" in a day. Note to yourself in which situations you most frequently use "sorry." Awareness of when you over use "sorry" is the first step in erasing it from your vocabulary.

2) Ask yourself: Is this something I truly need to apologize for? Have I made a terrible mistake or hurt someone? You will likely find that more often than not, an apology is not warranted.

3) Reserve apologizes for when you truly need to ask for forgiveness. Research indicates that when a person receives a genuine apology, they experience physical and mental benefits. And, when you need to ask for forgiveness do not minimize this act and the true essence of the meaning of "sorry" with excuses.

4) When you decide not to commit to something, do not apologize or give an excuse. You have the right to to firmly say, "No, I am unable to..."

5) When you provide a differing opinion do not qualify this with a "Sorry, but..."

This all might feel excruciating at first, but you will likely feel a renewed sense of empowerment to stand your ground without the superfluous noise of apologies and excuses.

To be taken seriously and to get things done, authentic and courageous leaders do not make "sorry" part of their regular vocabulary. Authentic leaders do not apologize for their point of view or values, but instead reserve the use of "sorry" for only the most appropriate of circumstances.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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Originally published