General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?

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BeagleMommy:
One of my professors, who I'll call Deb, apologizes for everything.  She is a very accomplished woman (she holds two masters degrees and a Ph.D.) and her students love her classes.  However, some of her coworkers laugh behind her back because of her necessity to apologize.  This conversation happened yesterday, between me and her.

Deb:  I'm sorry to disturb you, BeagleMommy.  Would you be able to make 100 copies of this?
Me:  You're not disturbing me.  I'll have to send it to the print shop to have that many copies made.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Do I have to fill out the form?
Me:  No, I have the form here.  I'll fill it out.  Do you need it single sided or double sided?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Double sided.
Me:  No problem.  Do you want them stapled or clipped?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Stapled, please.
Me:  Not a problem.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Is Friday, okay?
Me:  Sure, that's doable.  I'll take it over in a few minutes.
Deb:  Thanks.  I'm sorry I had to ask.
Me:   :-\

I was always told that, in business, you shouldn't apologize for asking for something.  That it makes you sound disingenous and ineffectual.  I know people think this of Deb.  Is there a polite way to tell her how this sounds?  She's not my supervisor; she's one of the professor I support as a secretary.

Hmmmmm:
It sounds like it's a bad habit she has gotten into and may not even realize it. Would you be willing to draw her attention to it next time? 

Deb:  I'm sorry, but can you make these copies?
You: No need to apoligize, it's my job and what I get paid for.

Or you could go even more direct route.  Go to her office and say you'd like to mention something to her.  "Deb, when you ask me to do things, you consistently start off my apologizing. It makes me a little uncomfortable because apologizing means you have done or are doing something you shouldn't. What your asking me to do is my job and completely appropriate."  And of course her response is going to be "I'm sorry" which you are then free to laugh with her about.  And hopefully she'll them become more aware of this habit.

oopsie:

--- Quote from: BeagleMommy on January 31, 2013, 12:00:01 PM ---
Deb:  I'm sorry to disturb you, BeagleMommy.  Would you be able to make 100 copies of this?
Me:  You're not disturbing me.  I'll have to send it to the print shop to have that many copies made.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.   Do I have to fill out the form?
Me:  No, I have the form here.  I'll fill it out.  Do you need it single sided or double sided?
Deb: I'm sorry.  Double sided.
Me:  No problem.  Do you want them stapled or clipped?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Stapled, please.
Me:  Not a problem.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.   Is Friday, okay?
Me:  Sure, that's doable.  I'll take it over in a few minutes.
Deb:  Thanks.  I'm sorry I had to ask.
Me:   :-\


--- End quote ---

It sounds like a nervous tic or something...?

ScubaGirl:
Maybe pause each time and then ask, "for what?"  This may bring the frequency to her attention.

My DH sometimes throws in "you know" excessively.  I just don't think he is aware of the frequency.

MrTango:

--- Quote from: oopsie on January 31, 2013, 12:35:56 PM ---
--- Quote from: BeagleMommy on January 31, 2013, 12:00:01 PM ---
Deb:  I'm sorry to disturb you, BeagleMommy.  Would you be able to make 100 copies of this?
Me:  You're not disturbing me.  I'll have to send it to the print shop to have that many copies made.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.   Do I have to fill out the form?
Me:  No, I have the form here.  I'll fill it out.  Do you need it single sided or double sided?
Deb: I'm sorry.  Double sided.
Me:  No problem.  Do you want them stapled or clipped?
Deb:  I'm sorry.  Stapled, please.
Me:  Not a problem.  When do you need them?
Deb:  I'm sorry.   Is Friday, okay?
Me:  Sure, that's doable.  I'll take it over in a few minutes.
Deb:  Thanks.  I'm sorry I had to ask.
Me:   :-\


--- End quote ---

It sounds like a nervous tic or something...?

--- End quote ---

That's what I was thinking as well.

Years ago, I had a tendancy to say "um" at the start of an answer if I have to think about my response.  I didn't realize it until my boss pointed it out.

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