Sure, everyone uses verbal crutches like “um” or “like” to fill the silence but “sorry” has slightly different baggage. “Sorry” is disproportionately utilized by females to render their speech less offensive and softer to listeners. So, why aren’t guys constantly apologizing, too? Deborah Tannen, a gender linguist says that men have a deep understanding that apologizing symbolizes defeat.
In this light we can easily see how using the phrase “sorry” could be incredibly detrimental for women, especially in the workplace. “Sorry” makes us come across as unsure, apprehensive and downright powerless. So, check out our list of ten “sorry” alternatives that will make you sound like the powerhouse you truly are.
10 badass “sorry” alternatives
1. Thanks for that feedback.
Oftentimes we end up saying “sorry” when we’ve been called out on a mistake we’ve made. This could be a mistake during a presentation, for example, or an error we’ve made while working in a group.
Instead of allowing this person who called you out to take the upper hand, embrace the feedback and thank them. Even if they’re being a total douchebag, do not stoop to their profoundly inferior level.
If you’re feeling particularly snarky add a little professional sass to your tone, “Thanks so much for that feedback,” and then just move right along. They won’t even know what hit them.
Oftentimes a simple “whoops” can make light of an error in a way that doesn’t cast you in a powerless light. Try it out for size. It feels easy-breezy, right?
So, next time you make a minor mistake, just say “whoops” and move right on like it’s no big deal. Because it really isn’t a big deal at all.
3. I’m still awaiting ____.
We’ve all been in that group with the person who will not turn in their part of the project. Oftentimes, we might try to soften the blow of our 5th email by saying, “Sorry to bother you again,” but there is absolutely no reason for you to be sorry that your group member doesn’t have their shit together.
Instead, make them sorry with a level of badass professionalism that they’ve yet to encounter. Try saying, “I’m still awaiting the documents per our discussion at last Thursday’s meeting. Please send them ASAP.” Don’t let losers off the hook and do not be apologetic about asserting yourself. You’re a straight up boss. Own it.
4. Excuse me.
If you’re sliding past someone, or letting out an accidental public burp, you may find yourself saying “sorry” automatically as a way of excusing yourself.
Instead, try actually excusing yourself. It makes you sound a lot less helpless and a lot more in charge.
We all get nervous when giving a speech or presentation. And in that moment when you lose your train of thought you may find that familiar verbal crutch slipping right out of your mouth. “Sorry.”
Well, don’t be. This happens to everyone and after all, you do not want an entire audience actually feeling sorry for you. When you get flustered, take a breath. Clear your mind. Picture the audience naked (if you’re into that). Perhaps you don’t need to say anything at all while you collect yourself. Stay poised.
If you feel that you need to make an utterance of some sort try a simple, “Ok,” as you proceed like the professional speaker that you are.
6. I’m going to finish that thought.
Have you ever been right in the middle of a sentence when a colleague or friend just cuts you off like you weren’t even talking? You may find yourself blurting out, “Sorry,” as you awkwardly attempt to continue that sentence you were working on.
However, don’t let this human weasel drag you into their power games. You keep on talking. You stop for no one.
Ok, maybe you stop if that person has the power to fire you, but you only stop long enough to assert, “I’m going to finish that thought.”
7. Let me clarify…
There are times during conversations when things might come out wrong and be easily misunderstood by others. Miscommunication and misunderstandings happen all the time.
Instead of making a big deal out of the situation, choose to clarify your point of view for the benefit of the discussion.
Similarly, if you think you’re misinterpreting another person’s words, you can always ask them to clarify. Communicating is so much easier when people calmly articulate themselves. And no one even needs to be sorry at all.
8. I’d like to add…
It is admittedly super difficult to edge yourself into a conversation in a group when the type-A’s are just going at it. It’s equally challenging to assert yourself on a conference call with like 20 other people accidentally yacking on top of each other.
However, you get in there. You get in there and don’t be sorry about it. Make your point and make it confidently. Your voice matters and your colleagues should consider themselves lucky that you’ve graced them with your insight.
9. I am completely at fault here.
Sometimes saying you’re sorry is actually a totally appropriate response—you know like when you miss an important deadline and fuck over your entire team, or when you get called out for saying something unintentionally offensive.
In these moments it’s better to own up to your mistakes quickly and efficiently. Admit your fault, offer your sincere apologies and move on. The amazing Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Now go live that motto and then try not to make those mistakes again.
There are times when you really do not need to be sorry at all, let alone convey any type of powerlessness. If someone is in your physical space and you don’t want them there, don’t be sorry. You tell them to back up.
If someone is pigeon holing you, or trying to tell you who you are, you tell them no. And then you tell them what’s what.
Do not allow the word “sorry” to enter your lexicon as a verbal crutch for those times when you need to stand up for yourself or others.
What phrases do you use instead of sorry?
Share your thoughts in the comments and let us know what phrases you use to be a bad bitch at school or in the workplace.
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