General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

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

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Maybe say, every time she does it, "Hey. [pause] You don't have to apologize—I'm happy to do it." Act concerned.

I used to have this habit in my personal life; it was basically cured by one of my friends giving me a look whenever I slipped up (after which, for about two months, I would inevitably say, "Did I apologize again? Sorry!," but eventually it worked).  ;D


--- Quote from: travestine on February 11, 2013, 03:29:10 PM ---Being Canadian, where we speak English, French and 'apologize", 'sorry' is pretty much a way of life. BUT - the prof is excessive. To me, it sounds like a lack of self-esteem - degrees and advanced education don't guarantee confidence. She may genuinely feel that she is troubling anyone she asks for assistance.  I think the OP would be doing her a service to take her aside and have a quiet discussion about her excessive use of the word "sorry". I think just trying to 'correct' her behaviour by saying 'what for' or 'I'm just doing my job' is a trifle PA and may even embarass her and make the situation worse, from her perspective.

--- End quote ---
I agree with the bolded. I have a co-worker right now who sounds remarkably like this prof.And like this prof, her behavior makes her ineffectual and people view her as less than competent as a direct result of this habit.

Every time she comes into my office -- which is when I've asked her to come in to do necessary work -- she starts out with an "I'm sorry." Every time she needs to ask me a question, it's "I'm sorry." To make it worse, she also changes her voice to a very babyish, little girly, high-pitched tone. She has self esteem issues and was emotionally and physically abused by her late husband and I view her behavior as a leftover from those days when she had to kowtow and fear that if she spoke "wrong" she'd get a punch in the face.

We've brought it to her attention and response was... to apologize for doing it. So now, she starts out with, "I'm sorry and-- Oh, I'm sorry for saying I'm sorry!" All in that same voice.

I have so much sympathy for her, but it can get reallllly hard to take when she's saying it fifteen times in five minutes. I just view my patience as time off from purgatory. 


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