Author Topic: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?  (Read 6205 times)

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CakeBeret

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2013, 11:47:33 AM »
If you have a good relationship with her, I would insert a lighthearted "Deb, honey, stop apologizing." into your conversation.

Otherwise I think you could say "You really don't need to apologize for asking me to do my job."

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nrb80

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2013, 12:04:57 PM »
I will be honest and admit that I do this with certain people.  For example, the secretary at my pro bono place is much older than most of us students, and has worked there longer than I've been alive.  Is it her job to go make me a copy or bring me a pen or refill the tea bag drawer? Yes, but I apologize so that she doesn't feel like some kid can just walk in and demand she get up from her desk and go do their bidding.  Could I do that? Yes, and some other students do, but she likes me better :)

As an aside, I'm a lawyer, and this is the single biggest mistake I made in my career.  The age thing is overwhelming, and I do think this is an issue for most women, particularly young women who have been raised to be polite and give great respect to their elders.  It took years to build my backbone, remember that I was the lawyer and the manager, and to assert authority.  It's hard.

nrb80

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2013, 12:07:00 PM »
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.

I don't think that I would directly counsel her as there is a power difference. 

I would do one of two things: (1) either reply in the moment that it is no trouble at all, and you're glad to help; or (2) bring it up directly and privately with her, saying that you noticed this habit when speaking to her, and you just wanted to make sure she knew that you were there to assist, and wanted to make sure she knows how happy you are to assist her when needed.


Auntie Mame

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2013, 12:18:18 PM »
Compulsive apologizers drive me around the bend, especially at work.  Do not apologize for asking me to do my job. Do not say "I'm sorry" when you want a glass of water, I am the hostess, I invited you to my home and I want you to be comfortable. 

Honestly, I don't respect compulsive apologizers, it says to the world "hey I have no confidence or self esteem!  Please come push me around and walk all over me while I apologize".  I know that is not the case, that is my perception.

A please will get you very far when asking for something, a sorry will only lose my respect.

Also, when compulsive do actually want to make a sincere apology for something, I don't take it seriously since I've heard I'm sorry from them so often it has now become meaningless when they say it.
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mmswm

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2013, 12:31:07 PM »
I will be honest and admit that I do this with certain people.  For example, the secretary at my pro bono place is much older than most of us students, and has worked there longer than I've been alive.  Is it her job to go make me a copy or bring me a pen or refill the tea bag drawer? Yes, but I apologize so that she doesn't feel like some kid can just walk in and demand she get up from her desk and go do their bidding.  Could I do that? Yes, and some other students do, but she likes me better :)

See, in this case I might be inclined to overuse "please and thank you", but not an apology.  I think if one spends so much time apologizing needlessly, or over trivial things, then any apology from that person might be seen as insignificant or overlooked.
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2013, 03:05:05 PM »
While I think the compulsive apologizer is unaware of how often they apologize, it feels manipulative.  For example, Friend jiggles against something, causing no damage, and says, "I'm sorry.  I'm such a klutz".  Then there's an awkward lull in which I'm supposed to say, "It's okay, you're not a klutz".   After the thousandth such incident, it feels like the friend is simply fishing for attention and reassurance.

My apologizing friend had major surgery, and when she first woke up in her hospital bed, her first words were an apology to the people present.  "I'm sorry, I hope you weren't waiting around a long time".  And, of course, everyone had to effuse how it was no problem, we're all so concerned about you, etc. 

I truly appreciate it when someone gently draws attention to my annoying habits.  Few people want to be annoying. 
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Auntie Mame

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2013, 03:38:43 PM »
While I think the compulsive apologizer is unaware of how often they apologize, it feels manipulative.  For example, Friend jiggles against something, causing no damage, and says, "I'm sorry.  I'm such a klutz".  Then there's an awkward lull in which I'm supposed to say, "It's okay, you're not a klutz".   After the thousandth such incident, it feels like the friend is simply fishing for attention and reassurance.

My apologizing friend had major surgery, and when she first woke up in her hospital bed, her first words were an apology to the people present.  "I'm sorry, I hope you weren't waiting around a long time".  And, of course, everyone had to effuse how it was no problem, we're all so concerned about you, etc. 


Oh my Great Good Goddess, that is such an excellent point!  My (s)Mother apologizes for every little goshdarn thing, nonstop.  Why?  because she needs to be the center of attention all.the.time.  We have to constantly constantly   reassure her and it's exhausting to be around.  That's one of the major reasons I see her as little as possible.
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JeanFromBNA

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2013, 04:01:05 PM »
I was always told that, in business, you shouldn't apologize for asking for something.  That it makes you sound disingenous and ineffectual.

I think it's okay to apologize if you are really inconveniencing somebody.  For instance, if you had returned with the copies, and I realized that I forgot to tell you that they needed to be double sided, I would apologize.  People should own up to mistakes. 

Asking you to do your job is not a mistake nor an inconvenience.  The word she wants is "please."

oceanus

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2013, 04:30:50 PM »
If you have a good relationship with her, I would insert a lighthearted "Deb, honey, stop apologizing." into your conversation.

Otherwise I think you could say "You really don't need to apologize for asking me to do my job."

I'd leave out the "honey".  Totally inappropriate.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2013, 06:03:59 PM »
I wanted to add something about Apologizing Friend in the Hospital.  We were there because we cared about her.  When someone you care about is seriously ill, you disrupt your life to be there for them because it's the right thing to do.  Somehow the apologizing, with the expectation of programmed responses, made it seem like we weren't doing enough or weren't doing the right thing.  It's strange to be deeply concerned about a friend and annoyed at the same time. 
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Mental Magpie

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2013, 08:41:34 PM »
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.

I don't think that I would directly counsel her as there is a power difference. 

I would do one of two things: (1) either reply in the moment that it is no trouble at all, and you're glad to help; or (2) bring it up directly and privately with her, saying that you noticed this habit when speaking to her, and you just wanted to make sure she knew that you were there to assist, and wanted to make sure she knows how happy you are to assist her when needed.

I think this is the best advice.  You may insult her or hurt her feelings if you outright tell her she is over apologizing.  By going at this directly (saying something directly to her) and indirectly (not telling her she over apologizes), you may dodge hurt feelings.  Make this about you, not her.  "I am here to assist.  It's my job to help you.  Please don't feel the need to apologize every time you ask me for something.  I enjoy helping you."
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

TootsNYC

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2013, 09:24:34 PM »
I think you can even say, "It makes me uncomfortable when you apologize. I'm worried--do I come across as unfriendly, or unwilling to help?"

Hillia

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2013, 11:56:44 PM »
I will be honest and admit that I do this with certain people.  For example, the secretary at my pro bono place is much older than most of us students, and has worked there longer than I've been alive.  Is it her job to go make me a copy or bring me a pen or refill the tea bag drawer? Yes, but I apologize so that she doesn't feel like some kid can just walk in and demand she get up from her desk and go do their bidding.  Could I do that? Yes, and some other students do, but she likes me better :)

As an aside, I'm a lawyer, and this is the single biggest mistake I made in my career.  The age thing is overwhelming, and I do think this is an issue for most women, particularly young women who have been raised to be polite and give great respect to their elders.  It took years to build my backbone, remember that I was the lawyer and the manager, and to assert authority.  It's hard.

I've recently recognized that I phrase every interaction with my employees as a request, and many of them aren't.  I've been working on breaking myself of the habit.  So instead of 'Could you please run the TPS reports?' I'm working on 'Please run the TPS reports...thank  you'.  They really don't have the option of whether or not to perform the task, so I don't need to ask them, just tell them, politely and respectfully of course.

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jaxsue

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2013, 10:03:18 AM »
I don't apologize as much as the co-worker in the OP, but I may say "sorry" more than some people like. It's cultural. If you were to spend a day with my extended family, you'd lose count of the number of times you heard the word.
They live in Ontario (English-Canadian), and it's a word that covers a lot of ground. If you don't hear what someone said, you say "sorry?", an in "pardon?" You bump into someone, and sorry is the first response. The last time I was in Ontario I bumped into a man in a grocery store; we both said, "Sorry!" at the same time, and we both said it more than once.
It is true that the word's being way overused in the situation in the OP, but not all of us are using the word to get attention or to brow-beat ourselves or others.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 12:02:34 AM by jaxsue »

Mental Magpie

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Re: Is There a Polite Way to Tell Her She Sounds Ineffectual?
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2013, 04:45:54 PM »
I don't apologize as much as the co-worker in the OP, but I may say "sorry" more than some people like. It's cultural. If you were to spend a day with my extended family, you'd lose count of the number of times you heard the word.
They live in Ontario (English-Canadian), and it's a word that covers a lot of ground. If you don't hear what someone said, you say "sorry?", an in "pardon?" You bump into someone, and sorry is the first response. The last time I was in Ontario I bumped into a man in a grocery store; we both said, "Sorry!" at the same time. Compare that to NYC (I live near the city), where you are not likely to hear that, and probably something more colorful.
It is true that the word's being way overused in the situation in the OP, but not all of us are using the word to get attention or to brow-beat ourselves or others.

I don't know about that. I say sorry when I bump into someone, accidentally get in their way, etcetera. That is not over apologizing. Over apologizing is saying it multiple times when it isn't necessary.
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