Friday, July 5, 2013

The "I'm sorry" experiment

My name is Jessica and I am an abuser of the phrase "I'm sorry."  Everyone who knows me, knows this is true.  I apologize for everything and it's annoying.  I know it's a problem but I didn't realize just how bad it was until the other night I ordered a beer at the bar, the bartender spilled it, and I said "I'm sorry."  She looked at me like I had 2 heads, why would I apologize for her mistake?  I just blushed and said "sorry, I can't help myself," took my beer, and booked it to the back room where Jim was playing darts.  This was the first time, after years of being told to stop apologizing, that I actually felt that I had to stop and think about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how I could make it stop!

A few weeks earlier, a coworker and I had a disagreement that led to us being called in to my boss's office privately.  I offered to apologize to smooth things over, even though it wasn't my fault, and my boss told me no.  She said that she sees apologizing as a sign of weakness and she would not allow me to apologize for something someone else did.  Weakness?  I never thought of it that way.  I always thought it was being polite, or considerate of the people around me, I never thought that it made me weak.  But, after the incident in the bar, I felt like the weakest person in the world.  What is wrong with me?  Why am I so weak?

For as long as I can remember, I've had a problem with guilt.  I feel guilty for everything!  I'm sorry I'm not a good enough daughter, wife, coworker, employee, etc...  I'm sorry for not making enough money and finally make my parents proud of me.  I'm sorry for messing up dinner or not washing a certain piece of clothing on time.  I'm sorry when I mess up a supply order, mishear a name on a phone call, or even when I have to go to the bathroom and leave my coworkers to cover the phones without me.  Are these things really something that I need to feel so guilty about that they make me sick?  They make me cry?  They keep me up at night!  No! NO! NO!

I need to learn to be OK with me, and be the best me that I can be, instead of apologizing for any short comings I may have, and now apologizing for others short comings, I need to start emphasizing and focusing on my strengths so that I won't be so weak.  I need to take a step back and think about what I'm saying.  Instead of just throwing around "I'm sorry" every chance I get, I should think what I really need to say.  For instance, a typical phone call at work goes something like this:

Me: Thank you for calling Plus logistics.  How may I help you.?
Client: Hi I'm calling from North Shore Endo and I need to order... etc etc
Me: I'm sorry, I can't seem to find you in the system.  I'm sorry can you tell me the name of your office again?
Client:  North Shore Endo
Me: OK, I found you, I'm sorry about that.  I'm sorry, what did you say you need to order?

I think you get the idea, so I'll spare you from going any further.  Instead of doing this, I need to stop and think.  The client would be just as happy if the conversation went more like this:

Me: Thank you for calling Plus logistics.  How may I help you?
Client: Hi I'm calling from North Shore Endo and I need to order... etc etc
Me: I can't seem to find you in the system.  Could you please tell me the name of your office again?
Client:  North Shore Endo
Me: OK, I found you.  What did you need to order?

As long as I'm polite, there is really no need for the apologies, especially since it's not my fault that they speak so fast and tell you so much at once.  I'm still trying to find them in the system and they're telling me the 15 things they want to order.  I know they're busy, but I am too, and if they want the right supplies, they'll deal with any questions I have because they won't be happy if they call back in 3 days because they received the wrong supplies.

As for feeling guilty and apologizing for how I am as a daughter or wife, I need to just stop focusing on the bad, because I know for a fact the good far outweighs the bad.  I need to be strong and stand up for myself and not allow others to constantly point out the negative.  If someone tries to bring me down I will just have to turn it around and emphasize the good.  I can no longer allow myself to be weak, no one is going to make me strong except me, this is what I must do to make myself relax, feel better, and be better.

I'm going to do an experiment to see if I can get myself to stop apologizing and start being a stronger person.  Here is my plan for the experiment: 
  1. Take a breath before I speak.  Think about what I'm about to say.  Do not allow myself to say "I'm sorry" unless it is actually necessary.  I'd say 9 times out of 10 I have done nothing wrong, certainly nothing that requires an apology, so this behavior needs to stop and it needs to stop now!
  2. When anyone does start to give me a problem for something I'm not doing the way they want it done, I will gently remind them that I'm doing the best that I can and remind them of something that I do well or have completed.  So the next time Jim gets mad that I didn't cook dinner by 7 pm, I'll smile and tell him "I'm doing the best I can, after working all day and dealing with rush hour traffic.  I will have it ready soon, maybe you can help me out and we'll get it done faster."  The next time my mother and father remind me that I'm broke and I have "no direction or drive," I'll have to tell them "I'm doing the best I can.  I have a lot of drive, my problem is that I'm just not sure what I really want to pursue.  In the mean time, I'm a stand out employee at my job, and I'm in management training.  I think that's a great step forward considering I had no background in lab work or logistics a year ago when I took this job."  I may have to change up what I say or how I approach situations, but for now, this is my plan.
 I'm beginning this experiment now- Friday July 5, 2013 at 2 pm.  I'm going to give it all I've got for a week and I'll report back to you all on the 12th.  In the mean time, I'd love to hear from you! 

Do you say I'm sorry a lot?  Why do you do it?  Are you willing to give this experiment a try?

Do you have any suggestions for me to be a better, stronger me?  I'm always open to constructive criticism.

No comments:

Post a Comment