Quit Apologizing, Over-Explaining and Justifying!

The session was hosted by identical twins Josie Gillan and Laurel McLay.  Josie identified herself as the right-brained twin and introduced her sister as the left-brained twin.  Josie demonstrated her right-brained nature by indicating her loud-print trousers.  Laurel was wearing a scarf with the same loud print, which is all that Josie could convince her sister to do!

Who here thinkjs they apologize too much?  Or wonders if they apologize too much without realizing it?” Josie asked.  There were Apology Bingo charts on the tables.  They contained mitigating words such as the following:

  • um
  • uh
  • really
  • generally

Josie played a video of herself explaining this concept.  She used all these words, especially “purely generalizing“.  Laurel expressed her surprise when she first saw this video because she knows what a strong speaker her sister is!

I first came across this concept of mitigating words about a decade ago.  Tara Sophia Mohr had published a book called Ten Rules for Brilliant Women.  There was a workbook available online, which I remember completing.  One of the rules was to stop using the word just to mitigate your request.

Josie asked the audience to identify her mitigating words.  I appreciate her openness in inviting us to identify her errors so that we could learn from her mistakes!  One audience member stated that she kept starting her sentences with the word but.  Josie agreed and explained that this equates to negating herself, without realizing it.  She went on to explain the root of the word apology.  I loved this part because I adore etymology!  The word apology comes from the Greek word apologos, which means story or moral fable.  The intent is to acknowledge and honor the story.

University of Waterloo (my alma mater and also represented at GHC 17!) scholar Corinna Schumann published the following findings:

  • Men apologize less often than women
  • The threshold of offensiveness is higher for men (audible gasps from the audience)

Another author had published a book titled How to Become a Canadian Without Even Trying.  The Canadians in the audience (myself included) cheered.  Canadians are known for their tendency to apologize.  I remember a cartoon that featured the Olympic podium.  This was during the Vancouver 2014 Olympics where Canada won several gold medals.  The cartoon depicted the gold medallist on the podium saying “Sorry” to the silver and bronze medallists.  This was how you could identify that he was a Canadian!

The book outlined 12 different ways of apologizing:  the royal apology, the subservient apology, etc.  British, Japanese and Korean cultures were also brought to the forefront as master apologists.

Next post:  Good girls and perfectionists



About Saranya Murthy

Writing is my life's work.
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