This is an all ears English podcast, episode 14 76, don't apologize for a job well done.
Welcome to the All Ears English podcast downloaded more than 150 million times. Are you feeling stuck with your English? We'll show you how to become fearless and fluent by focusing on connection, not perfection, with your American hosts, Aubrey Carter, the Isles Whiz, and Lindsay McMahon, the English adventurer coming to you from Arizona and Colorado U. A and to get your transcripts delivered by email every week, go to all ears. English dot com forward slash subscribe.
What could be the result of a lifetime of apologizing when you make statements at work in American culture, it could cause a lower salary, a lack of promotions, and it could make your colleagues respect you less today. Listen to this second episode in our series on language trends in 2020.
How's it going, Aubrey, good to have you on the show. Yes, I always love being over here. How are you? Good, good. Doing well.
I've been visiting some family on the East Coast, so, yeah, breathing in that ocean air is always a good thing when you're in a landlocked state.
So get away from Colorado and you'll actually be a little closer to an ocean anywhere. Whichever direction you drive, you'll get closer to an ocean.
That's true. So I agree on. Yeah.
You know, I love to start these fun questions. Oh, yeah. Do you find it easy to talk up your accomplishments at work? Like if you had to fill something out that asked, what did you do well this week, would that be easy for you?
I think more now than before. You know, at my age, right at this point, probably easier than it was when I was 25, for example, but not necessarily easy. No, I would say, well, Turkey is loaded.
At least there's improvement. Right. That's nice. You can see you're doing better. I'm terrible at it. I, I still have a hard time.
It's much easier for me to think of something that someone else did well that I work with or sort of in general something that went well. And if I have to sit and think, what did I accomplish or do, perform well, it's for some reason there's this.
Bluck interesting, right? Whether cultural or how I was raised, there's this tendency to not focus on my own accomplishments, you know, so we were talking about this about ten episodes ago, guys.
In the first episode in this series, this is your crash course in language trends in twenty twenty. And we talked about how it is cultural, but it's weird. We have this weird juxtaposition in American culture where in some ways we're self promotional. Right. You have marketing commercials and messages everywhere, but in other ways we're totally not. You know what I mean? It's strange.
You're right. It's interesting.
And we want to do a different take on it today because from this conference, we we learned some interesting information about why it's so vital to avoid apologizing as a business professional.
And this really ring true because we have been creating this business course, which is amazing. If you guys haven't checked it out, go to Oliver's English dotcom slash business. But this is so key because like we talked about last time, it is very cultural and it depends a lot on how you were raised. But no matter what your culture and how you were raised, it's the same for you.
Once you're in the business world, that apologizing can be very detrimental. Mm hmm.
There's a gender aspect here, too, of course, right? Yeah. This is. Oh, man, guys, we try to in our business curriculum, we try to really bring you real topics like current topics that people are actually talking about, not archaic formal language from the textbooks of the 90s. Right. This is why this fits in really nicely with our business curriculum. Aubrey, here. Exactly right.
Sometimes it's just so important to realize we don't want to minimize our contributions or ever question our own ability.
We have to realize how that presents to other people, how they will, you know, respond to that or or how that makes us look. And it might even keep us from getting a promotion total.
And so this episode today is inspired by a talk by someone. Right. About that speaker that you got a chance to see.
Her name is Shanti's Street. She's a business English coach. And yes, it was fascinating. She had so much great information. And so this time we're talking about what she said about why it's so important to ditch the apology as a business professional and how to do that concrete ways.
What you can say, instead of apologizing Samso guys, go and check out Shauntay Street online, see what she's up to for sure. But we're just going to give you a little synopsis and kind of our take away from that talk. Right, our angle on it here. So let's get into it. Obree. Yes, exactly.
OK, so you may find yourself at work starting everything you say with sorry or an apology, right.
You may say sorry.
This might be a silly question, but or I'm sorry, but do you have a minute. Right.
OK, or. Oh, I'm sorry, but can I make a comment here? I don't want to disturb anyone.
I guess I know or I'm not an expert here, but. Yeah. Or for example, when a boss compliments you for meeting a sales goal, you deflect that and you say, well, it was a team effort.
Right, exactly. And you can see I know as you guys are listening to this, you can see how this could be detrimental. But you want to really be reflective here and think about do you do this right?
I think it's very common. You're not alone. A lot of us do this, especially at work.
Oh, it's so hard. For example, you know, for our listeners from Japan, I mean, I know because I worked in Japan for a couple of years, a year and a half, saying something like, well, it was a team effort I think is almost required in Japanese culture. You must you know, you must do that. Right? That's my understanding, at least. So I think it's challenging. As we cross cultures, we learn a new language.
We have to figure out that other culture and what's going to look good and what's not going to look so good in this other culture. Yes, exactly, and that's why, you know, Shauntay Street was talking about what exactly is the trouble with apologizing in the business world, because we may have students from Japan or from other cultures who who do show more humility that might not realize, you know, what could be the effect here.
So she gave four points of why what can happen if you're apologizing at work.
OK, and this is this is kind of specifically in American culture, then, right? I mean, we can kind of narrow it down there. Yeah, I would say so, too.
So the first one then Obree is people end up not taking us seriously and this is what she share. So if you don't believe you're ready for a senior position, then no one will think you're ready. And so much about what you believe you can do. It's like if people don't know you, all they have to go on is the tone of your voice, how you how seriously you take yourself. Exactly right.
And then they if you don't take yourself seriously, they won't either. Exactly. And the second one is you can actually irritate people. If you're saying sorry, this may be a silly question. For example, they may think, then why are you asking it? Right.
That's why I say that they might even say that.
They might say that if you have a sassy co-worker or something, they may actually say that to you. And that would be embarrassing, right? Yes. Yes. Do you hear the motorcycles in the background? I don't know if you can hear.
It's a very faint, but. Yes. OK, guys, we have a traveling podcast today.
Like I said, I'm recording on the South Shore, and this is a noisy street. Sorry for the noise.
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What's the third reason?
Well, it can undermine your credibility, your shining a spotlight on your language skills, maybe if you're apologizing and saying, sorry, I may make mistakes in this presentation, but hopefully you'll understand me. Right? Think about what you're shining a spotlight on. You might be the expert. And the message that you're going to share in a presentation or an email is vital for the people in the room. And instead you're highlighting your language skills and maybe they'll pay attention to that instead of your message.
Yeah, you know, this makes me think of when I was living in Boston. I used to do a lot of tutoring for like Ph.D. students at MIT. And a lot of them were international students, right? Of course, they were. They were learning English. But my student, Ben, was from France. He was always so worried about how perfect his English was. But the fact was he was an absolute expert in physics and what he knew was amazing.
He had the expertise. That's what we want you guys to remember, don't like, degrade or downplay your expertise by focusing on problems with your English. Right. What a loss for the world.
Yes. And, you know, there's a reason that speakers are introduced by having someone share their credentials. We want to know why they're an expert and why we should listen. And so if we then apologize for our language skills, we're undoing all that credibility that was built.
Yeah, makes me cringe. I mean, so much this particular guy knew. Right, how deep his expertise were. But if you distract, then people will focus on that. You just you basically tell people what to focus on based on the words you choose. Exactly. You know. Right.
OK, so we have a fourth one. Right. And this is tricky that it can perpetuate and continue or maintain hierarchies in corporate cultures.
So tell us about this. Right. So if we're always humble and we don't speak up, then people will overlook us. It can work against us if we're not seen as competent enough for a promotion.
And you may be frustrated that you you know, your expertise and your skills and your experience are being looked over, aren't being recognized.
But it may just be because of the language you're using is not letting people see that you deserve a promotion. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Absolutely.
That's dangerous. So then over the course, if we want to talk about, you know, earnings over the course of a lifetime. Right.
And everyone wants to, you know, increase their earnings, report, their family, this could mean thousands of dollars lost. Yes, exactly.
Right. You you could deserve a raise. You know, you could deserve a higher salary. But if you aren't willing to ask for it or if your boss is complimenting you for a job well done and you are telling him it was really the team, he may second guess that promotion, right?
Yeah. So we kind of have to find that balance of, you know, how can we make sure our boss knows it was us? It was the team too. But they want to know what's your contribution? And I want to add one interesting point here. Another reason that I could see for not doing this is that the words that we say teach us something about ourselves. So it like reflects back on us and it becomes our opinion. In a sense.
This is a little more existential, right? That's a good point, though.
If we're always hearing ourselves apologize in this way, we start to degrade what we're actually contributing.
So it becomes the way we think of ourselves. Yes. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Yeah, exactly.
OK, so we have an activity here that's going to give you guys concrete examples of things that you maybe would say that contain an apology and a better way to say it that eliminates that apology, right?
Yeah, we love to get specific on the show, so let's do it. Obra, what should we actually say? OK, so I'm going to give something that contains an apology. And then, Lindsay, you share how to say that without the apology, OK?
All right. Here's the first one. Sorry, this may be a silly question, OK?
And then I could say I have a question. Right, exactly.
And we can do another episode, another day on why we should say I have a question right now going up with that, a whole nother topic, especially around women and gender equality.
And I have a question exactly. Yeah.
You have the right to have a question. Just say I have a question. Keep it simple. Yes.
So Shanti's advice was to assume that someone in the room has the same question as you but isn't brave enough to ask. This will give you courage. So it's like you're speaking for everyone in the room who might also be thinking this.
Oh, that's really good advice from Shauntay here. It's kind of like tricking yourself into thinking a different way. That's so good, right? Exactly.
OK, here's the second one. Ready. Sorry for keeping you waiting. OK, and I would say instead, thanks for waiting, everybody. Exactly right.
If you apologize for keeping people waiting, you're putting yourself on the defensive and you might make them think, yeah, you've wasted our time. Right instead. Right. Acknowledge that they waited for you and thank them. And then if you really thank them for waiting, how can they now be angry or blame you instead of being. Annoyed the psychology is totally different and the level of respect will remain high on both sides. Oh my gosh, words are so important.
It's all about how you frame things. Exactly.
It's like two completely different people here, guys, right? Yes.
And two completely different levels of respect and admiration. And think about which of these people are you more likely to take seriously in the meeting that's about to start?
Absolutely, yeah. Do we have another. Yes. OK, so I would say I'm sorry, but I, I'm not ready for that promotion.
OK, and I could say instead, thank you for the opportunity. I'll need some support. Angela on the sales team would be perfect because.
Yes, I love that because maybe you aren't ready for this promotion or you know, you really feel you're not you can still do it if you have the support you need. So instead. Thank you. I can do that. I'll need some support and suggest who could help.
Yeah. It's so good. It's instead of saying what's missing. Yeah. Instead of like negating anything, I'm not ready. I'm not this. I'm not that you're saying what you need. It's kind of that more positive way of saying it. So good.
Yes. OK, and here's another one. Often you're going to have like a chat. If you're on a Zoome call, there'll be a chat and there may be questions that come up in that. And you might find yourself saying, sorry, I'm just going to check the chat.
I would say I need a second to review the latest comments and questions in the chat. So instead of saying, I'm sorry, I need a second to say I need a second.
Right. And again, totally legit, totally fine. Because I that right.
Just realize there's no need for an apology there. That's your task. You're expected to do it. Don't apologize. And she mentioned that whenever possible, remove that word.
Just we do that a lot. Oh, I'm just going to do this. Just remove just I'm going to do this. Yeah.
That's so good. That's so good. All right. Should we do one more. Yes. OK, last one. So if someone. Yeah. Oh yeah. Sorry, I just thought of something. We actually did an episode on that. Sorry I just randomly thought of that guys but there was an episode on all about just and I will see if I can grab the episode number here for you guys.
Yeah that would be good. I haven't heard that one. I love listening to the older episodes. I hope the old guy will try to put it in the blog post perfected blog post and I'll let you know what that episode is about. Using just or not using. OK, what's the.
OK, here's the last one. So if someone compliments you for a presentation you just completed, you might say I spoke too fast and I forgot to share something and instead you could say thank you.
What do you find most interesting about this subject? Yeah, so here it's interesting because you're continuing the connection. Exactly.
This is a lot like our previous episode where if you apologize and mention flaws or things you wish you would have changed, it could create an awkward situation. They might have a tendency to end the conversation and walk away. Whereas what you said, you definitely be like, what do you find most interesting? Hmm. Hmm.
I love it. I love it. Connection, connection, connection. So good. Yeah. Guys, make sure you go out and hit. Subscribe to this podcast so you can get the next episode in this series. And what should we leave our listeners with here, Aubrey?
Well, think about this for yourself. If you do find yourself apologizing at work, realize how this can make others perceive you.
You want to own your abilities, your skills and talents and practice accepting compliments and speaking to colleagues at work without apologizing.
This will make them take you more seriously and it will make sure that you aren't overlooked for those promotions and those salary bumps like Lindsay was talking about.
Yeah, keep in mind what is really at stake here by the end of your career, what's at stake. And it's really just a matter of of habits. Again, I think it comes back to habits because once you start doing this a few times, it'll become automatic and you'll forget that Sara is in your vocabulary at all.
I think. Yeah, I think you guys are going to start noticing it a lot more in your everyday conversation and at work, you'll probably hear colleagues apologize. It's going to be interesting. You guys should definitely pay attention and then come back to the blog and comment. Let us know if you're hearing this a lot of work or if you're realizing you do it yourself and what you'll do to change it.
Yeah. So good. All right. All right. Here, Aubrey, I'll see you on the next episode in this series. This has been great. Perfect. Thanks. Lindsay Zia, thanks. Take care. Bye.
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