It is time to monitor your apologies. When you automatically say, “I’m sorry,” to situations even those outside your control you may portray yourself as a caring person but you are also reducing the impact of future apologies and eroding your Executive Presence. As one of my coachees remarked “I have heard ‘I’m sorry’ so often it ceases to have any meaning”

‘Sorry sems to be the hardest word’ is a myth. It frequently pops up in business conversations at unwarranted times and can be perceived as sarcastic or insincere. ‘Sorry’ when used inappropriately or overused undermines authority. Make no apology for setting high standards or for disagreeing with a colleague – this is not bad news – it’s business. Hence, the first task is to determine whether you are really delivering bad news then review and monitor how you deliver it. Use ‘I am afraid” to introduce bad news, “I am sorry” to express regret and “I apologise” to assume responsibility for a situation. By using these three expressions you will not devalue your apologies. However, if you want to start apologising less frequently, here are a few ways to do it:

The four stages are:

1.     Establish whether you over apologising

Find out whether you are someone who apologises too much. Over-apologising may have become an automatic reaction so observe other people’s reactions to your ‘I’m sorry’ and/or seeking feedback.

2.     Become more self-aware

Knowing you over apologise will help you to carefully observe a situation before immediately blurting out the words “I’m sorry.”

It also helps to keep a tally of how many times you apologise in a day and for what reason.

3.     Know what merits an apology

There is no need to apologise if you could not control the situation. If you were at fault, own up to it. Admitting a mistake or being wrong is not easy, but it can strengthen your relationships and demonstrate your emotional intelligence. One of my coachees took responsibility for a serious error and contrary to his expectation the client extended the contract despite “feeling cheated” that he could not give my coachee “a rocket”.

4.     Reframing

‘Re-writing the script’ takes self-discipline, but over time, it will begin to feel natural and become “second nature”. Instead of saying ‘I’m sorry’ thank others for finding errors. Do not apologise for saying “no” to a task because you do not have the time or resources instead negotiate your workload or find another way of solving the issue/ problem.

In summary, a sincere apology is one of the most the most powerful ways of influencing others in business. It expresses regret and assumes responsibility. Genuine apologies can encourage forgiveness, repair relationships and dissolve hostility. By modelling this behaviour, you will not only enhance your Executive Presence you will also be setting an example to others. To find out more about Executive Presence visit