The Big Idea
Questions I Answer
- How can I stop people pleasing?
- What can I say instead of I’m sorry?
- How do I set better boundaries?
- What can I say when I really want to say no?
Actions to Take
- Come up with 10 amazing facts about you, 10 things that make you unique and special. Write them down and then share them with me on social media, and be sure to tag me so I can celebrate with you.
Key Topics in the Show
Moving on from your people-pleasing ways
Doing your own thing, on your own terms, without apologizing for it
Learning to be confidently and boldly you
Experimenting with being more direct and swapping out your verbiage
Giving yourself space to really think before you speak by employing the five-second rule
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes:
This is Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more but to achieve what’s truly important to you, and this season is all about you, You 2.0. To learn more about yourself, take Tanya’s free quiz and discover your own productivity style at Tanyadalton.com.
And now get ready. Here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello. Hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 163, How to Be Unapologetically You. So, I want you to think about something. How many times do you think you’ve apologized today or this week? Now, keep in mind, I’m not talking about a legitimate apology or you’ve said, “I’m sorry to someone for insulting them,” or because you’ve done something genuinely wrong. Rather, I’m talking about the kind of apology where you’re simply saying sorry for essentially no reason at all. Now I know it sounds silly, right? I mean, who would apologize for no reason, but as silly as it seems, believe it or not, this is something that we, especially as women, do frequently. Often, without even realizing it. We apologize for the times that we’re running late to work, or we need to reschedule a meeting because we get caught in traffic or we had a sick kid at home. We throw in an “I’m sorry”, into our everyday conversation. When we disagree with a colleague or our boss about a new initiative or a project or something else that we have a different opinion about.
I mean, we even offer up an apology for the way that we feel. I’m sorry, I’m a little sad today, or I’m sorry, I just can’t stop smiling. I’m just so excited. Right? My guess, if you stop and count, there’s a lot more sorries happening in your life and to be honest in mine that are really necessary. Now, I’m not generalizing here. In fact, we women apologize so much that it sparked researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada to dig into this phenomenon that women, by nature, apologize more than their male counterparts. So they gathered together a group of men and women, and they asked them to keep daily logs, to keep track of the things they did throughout their workday.
But other people might consider to be offensive. Things like running late to a meeting due to unexpected traffic, speaking up during a collaborative meeting with a
differing opinion, expressing excitement over a win in their day, or disappointment over a failure, and so forth. The researchers also asked them to track the number of times that they apologized for these so-called offenses. Now what their study revealed is that women apologize more frequently than men because their threshold of what’s considered offensive behavior is significantly lower. And not only did women report committing more offenses, but they also reported offering more apologies than their male peers. So I want you to let that sink in for just a minute. All of the things, all the things that you and I may consider to be taboo, like running late or disagreeing with someone during a meeting. These are things that our male peers find completely normal. They’re just normal parts of daily life that doesn’t warrant an apology.
Page 1 of 7
And when you think about it, shouldn’t they think that way? I mean, after all, if there are times when we run late because of traffic or because we get into an accident, things that we cannot control. I mean, I’m not a traffic controller. I don’t know if you are, but we can’t force the drivers in front of us to move any faster, right?
These things happen. But we feel the need to apologize for them. And it’s the very same way for our feelings and our opinions, even though I mean we feel what we feel. So why do we, as women, constantly believe that we need to apologize for having emotions? Is it because we’re worried about offending someone that we think or believe differently?
The researchers at Waterloo University discovered that women are typically quicker to back down to compromise or moderate their opinion simply because we were taught to be the people pleasers. Right? And that boils down to this. We say, “I’m sorry,”even when we’re not, we say sorry to curb disagreements. We say sorry to not rock the boat. We say sorry to protect others from having their egos bruise, their feelings hurt, and so on. There are a ton of different reasons that we end up apologizing and backing down when we don’t mean to or even necessarily want to. We are so often taught to be the peacemakers, and depending on when you were born, you might’ve been taught to be lady-like, right? Which basically means be agreeable and look good while doing it.
Ladies, you see through the books we read, the movies we see and all of that, women are either directly or indirectly taught to smooth over the conflicts, to feign weakness to some degree or another. I mean, not all that long ago, the roles of the damsel in distress or the girl next door, for example, those were being recycled again and again as a way to show us what women are like or how supposed to be. And keep in mind that this differ drastically from the roles that are commonly designed for men
Typically, where women are painted as these meek characters in a constant need of saving, men are painted as bold and brave and tough no matter the cost or the consequence. I mean, how long did it take us to get a female superhero movie? And so, we’re allowing society or allowing the movies and the culture to tell us that we need to be ladylike. We need to be agreeable. Now, the good news is, in recent years, women have been making huge strides across the board in nearly all professional fields. But that line meant to separate women and men into these manageable boxes wrapped in these traditional standards. It’s still the one that we run to from time to time. And if we do dare to step over that box or even be as bold as to kick it over, we find ourselves apologizing for it.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I find something seriously wrong with this picture. It’s time for us to finally say that enough is enough. We’re unique. We are strong, we are capable of incredible things, and we matter, the way we think, the way that we feel that matters. Because here’s the hard truth. All of this chronic apologizing, especially when it happens at work, while we’re trying to climb the ladder of success, is affecting us. Constant apologies only perpetuate the misconception about us as women, that we are inherently weaker. And even more so, when we constantly throw in the, I’m sorry, every time we have a different opinion or express
Page 2 of 7
our feelings or simply use our voices, we take away some of the power and confidence we could otherwise cultivate and leverage into the success we want in life.
So instead of coming across as competent, comfortable, and in control, all of these sorties and compromises send a message to everyone around us that we are too afraid to stand up. We are too afraid to take action, and we’re too insecure to simply be our true selves. And this relates directly back to what we were just discussing a few episodes back in episode 162 about changing our narrative. If we are constantly bending and compromising ourselves and our beliefs by offering up apology after apology, how can we find the space that we need to lead our lives with more authenticity? It becomes downright impossible. You see, in order to be
successful, we need to stop apologizing and start embracing who we are, what we feel, and what we want, period, end of sentence. That is truly what this boils down to, and we can really see this idea so clearly when we think about some of those well known celebrities as women in the workforce that we look up to.
Ellen Degeneres, Oprah, Beyonce, Sara Blakely. What are some of the words that come to mind when you imagine them on TV or performing on stage or running their businesses? I mean, if you’re like me, then I’m sure words like competent, powerful, inspirational, successful, transparent, real, those pop into your brain when you think about those women, right? And there’s a good reason for that. There’s a reason why we look at the Beyoncés, and the Ellens and the Oprahs and the Saras of the world with so much respect and adoration. It’s because we see them constantly doing their own thing on their own terms without uttering a single apology for it. I know that for me, when people ask me howlgrew a seven figure business in 18 months, I tell them it’s because I never took no for an answer. If I came to a wall, if I
got to an obstacle, I went around it or I climbed over it, or i tunneled underneath it, or I simply burned it to the ground, and I never apologized for running my business the way everyone else runs theirs.
I ran my business the way I wanted to run my business. Now, here’s the truth, those successes that we just talked about, they didn’t happen overnight for those women or for me. But you can also bet it didn’t happen because any of those women
one day just said, “You know what? I’m going to stop being wholam inside and I’m going to bend to the will of everyone else around me.” Instead, these women and all the powerful women who came before them paved the way.
Think about an industry like the comedy industry with women like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Betty White. All prominent women figures in comedy and television, decades ago, they didn’t rise to the top because they were constantly playing a game of smoke and mirrors and pretending to be something they weren’t. Oh no. Those women, they rose to the top because they weren’t afraid to put their true selves out there, even if it meant that it was running the risk of rattling a few cages. And they were admired. They were catapulted into success because of it, and they changed the industry for women because of it.
Strong women who became the shoulders for others to stand upon and keep shaking that industry up, and you can be sure that all the prominent women in the
Page 3 of 7
business world, they’re doing the exact same thing right now. They’re putting
themselves, their authentic selves out there, and they‘re staying the course without feeling sorry for it. So, if you want to be successful, you got to give yourself permission to do the same. Let’s be the shoulders for the others who are next to us and those who come after us so they can stand upon what we have created to keep shaking things up. Stop apologizing for pushing the boundaries at work, even if it means you might make your colleague who’s afraid to step out of their own comfort zone a little bit uncomfortable.
Stop apologizing for speaking up when you have a great idea. Stop saying I’m sorry for simply being who you are. The only one that benefits from your hesitation to embrace your true self is the person next to you who’s not afraid to embrace theirs. Because here’s what’s true. Avoiding the risk of offending someone who disagrees with us by tamping down our own thoughts or opinions, benefits no one. I want to remind you of a phrase that I shared in my book, In The Joy of Missing Out, being kind and being assertive are not mutually exclusive. It’s not an either or situation. Standing tall and stating how you feel or what you think doesn’t make you unkind, it doesn’t make you rude. You can have a differing opinion or viewpoint and still be civil. We can be both. Removing the unnecessary apologies from our everyday conversations brings us closer to trusting our own words and having the courage to truly be ourselves no matter what.
After all, being confidently ourselves, that is something we should never feel like we have to apologize for. Years ago I came across this interview with Dita Von Teese, and I’m not a huge Dita Von Teese fan, but she said something that really stuck with me. It really resonated with me, and I’ve thought about it again and again and again in my own life. She was talking about how she’s chosen to lead her life doing things her way, regardless of the status quo. And here’s what she said, “You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches, right? No matter who you are or how hard you try to confine yourself within that tight little box of what society creates for you. You’ll always have someone who doesn’t like what you do sometimes for no reason at all.”
Dita Von Teese is right. There will always be someone out there who complains or takes issue with something that you do or say or believe. So why not make sure that whatever it is you’re putting out there is at least real and true for you and who you are at your core. And it’s true. No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, there’s going to be someone somewhere who doesn’t like what you’re doing. So if you live your life trying to avoid disappointing others, you’re only going to end up disappointing yourself.
During the goal setting challenge, a few weeks back at the start of the new year, I experienced this myself. I talked about this, earlier this season that I have really decided this year is my year to fully 100% embrace my truest self. Thus the whole season topic here, right? I mean, the podcast is essentially a way for me to dig in and dive into some of these things for myself as much as it is for you guys.
Page 4 of 7
So in the effort of embracing who I am, during my first live stream, I let two little cuss words fly. Two. Two little words. They just kind of flipped out. It’s wholam. It’s how I talk. I don’t cuss incessantly. But I did have two little minor cuss words come out. And I got a couple of emails from people. Oh, so disappointed in the language ! heard in the livestream. So disappointed. Right? So I talked about this in the live
stream the next day. That word disappointed, it’s kind of like getting a balloon at the circus, right? Shiny red balloon and someone walking over and popping it. It just deflates you. There is not many words I can think of that make you feel lower, that make you feel worse, quite frankly than the words, “I’m disappointed.”
Honestly, it’s really hard when people are disappointed with you, and that’s why we give in to apologizing. We’re trying to avoid everyone else’s disappointment at the expense of our own. And I have to be honest here, I had to tamp down the urge to apologize, but then I didn’t. You know why? Because I’m not sorry for being myself. I am not sorry for embracing wholam, speaking the way that I am, talking about the things that are important to me. Getting impassioned and getting excited and letting a cuss word once or twice slide out. I’m not going to do it all the time, but every now and then it might happen. And that is wholam. So, I understand. It’s hard letting go of these old habits like apologizing because I do it too. It’s a challenge. Sol want to look at some ways to make living our lives unapologetically as possible easier to navigate.
So I want to talk about that in just a minute. But first I want to have a quick word from our sponsor, because today’s episode is brought to you by inKWELL press, which happens to be my productivity company. So if you’re feeling like, yep, I’m ready for my truest self, I’m ready for you 2.0, this is the time to start. Customize your planner through inkWELL press. We talk an awful lot on this podcast about making planning personal, and so I brought that into your planner. They’re designed to be customized to you and your life and they’re aligned with everything we talk about here on the podcast, Kind of feels like a no brainer, right? You want to get organized. I’ve got the tools to make it happen.
And this week, on Thursday and Friday, February 28th and 29th, we’re celebrating leap year with two great discounts. First of all, 29% off, site-wide with the code leap, and I’m offering free shipping on all orders $29 in more. So it’s for two days only, starting on Friday, February 28th, go ahead, mark your calendar, if you don’t have one, pick one up while you’re at ink WELL press.
All right, so enough about today’s sponsor because I really want to get into this idea of how do we make it easier to stop apologizing, because I do understand it is completely something that just slips out of our mouth without us even thinking about it. And I know apologizing might seem like a reflex, it’s just what you do, but there is a way to move beyond this, all right? First thing you can do, try experimenting with being a little more direct. I know, I felt you get a little uncomfortable there, didn’t l? Getting direct feels uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be confrontational. It’s just about reframing our speech. We can gain more awareness about how we truly feel and we can be polite without apologizing for what we have the right to share,
Page 5 of 7
because when we begin or end every sentence with an, “I’m sorry,” it undermines the power of what we’re really trying to say and it undermines us as women in general.
So an easy way to do this is try swapping “I’m sorry, I have a question,” with something like, “I would like to ask a question please,” or “if I may, I’d like to ask.” See? Direct, no apology in there, yet still polite. Back in episode 117 when we talked about building up our confidence, we discussed swapping out, “I’m sorry,” with, “thank you.”
So you could swap out, “I’m sorry for bothering you,” with, “thank you for listening.” You can hear there’s a difference. When we say, “I’m sorry,” we do sound a little bit meek. We don’t sound as confident versus when we say thank you. There’s lots of
different ways to swap out, “I’m sorry,” for something else. You could try instead of, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I see it that way,” with, “your perspective is really interesting. 1 have a different take I’d like to share.”
Here’s the point, there are a number of ways that you can flip an, “I’m sorry,” on its head. You need to find what resonates with you and please, for the love of womenkind, start putting them to use. Stop feeling like you have to apologize. Now, I know, this is a little bit of a shift in how you talk, so give yourself some grace. Consider giving yourself a few seconds to pause and think before you engage and start to speak. Mel Robbins, who is a great motivational speaker and coach, she calls this employing the five second rule into everyday speech. Now, essentially, the five second rule requires that you just take a deep breath and relax before you blurt out, an, “I’m sorry.” This allows you to, first of all, address a specific situation you’re answering. And second of all, it removes some of that emotional reactivity from our speech, which gives us more control and emotional intelligence by extension.
So the more pause that we give ourselves before we answer, the easier it is to ensure that what we say is more direct and is more in tune with our true authentic self. It could also help to look at, “I’m sorry,” as a verbal tick. Now what I mean by that is a word that you use as a filler, like the word like or you know when someone’s having a conversation they keep saying the word like again and again, I realized this because my son is having a struggle with this and we keep stopping him every time he says the word like and he’s realizing, oh I can’t believe how many times I’m saying the word like in my conversation. I think I’m sorry is very similar. We’re throwing it in subconsciously into our everyday speech. So if you begin to note it, it becomes easier to switch it over and to make it so it’s not such an issue.
Verbal ticks need to be addressed head on before they get better. So give yourself the space to truly think before you speak. Use that five second rule. The benefit of removing these verbal ticks from your regular conversation is it will give you a stronger stance, no matter who you’re talking to or where you are or what you’re talking about. And this in turn puts some feeling of power back in your pocket. There’s nothing like feeling confident. You know how we talked about the feeling of disappointment? It’s the exact opposite. It’s the shiny red balloon, right? It’s what we all want. So give yourself that space to feel confident, to feel powerful, to not say, “I’m sorry”
Page 6 of 7
And then my final tip here today is to simply stop viewing your authentic self, which includes the things that make you unique, valuable, strong, brave. Stop thinking of those things as self-centered. Stop acting as if celebrating all the things that make you special is the same as bragging. Speaking your mind, using your strengths, using those superpowers that we discussed back in episode 160, using those to your advantage at work. Whether that means you’re offering up new ideas or strategies or initiative to keep things running and flowing smoother. To make things better. That is not a form of bragging, but this is also where a lot of women struggle. We hate to feel like we’re bragging about anything, right? So we apologize. We wind up apologizing for our achievements instead. It’s an ugly cycle. It’s a vicious cycle, but we can break
Here’s one of the first steps. I want to give you a little challenge today as we close out the show. I want you to come up with 10 amazing facts about you. 10 things that make you unique and special. 10. You can do that. 10 is easy, 10 is manageable, 10 amazing, interesting, fabulous facts about you. I want you to write them down, and I want you to post them and be sure to tag me. Uh-huh (affirmative) | said. Post them on social media. Put them on your Instagram feed or your stories or Facebook or LinkedIn, anywhere you want, but I want you to post it. I want you to take the time to celebrate the 10 things that make you amazing and you’ve got to post them. Because here’s the truth, sharing these facts is a way to attract people who need you and your talent. And it’s a way to help you break the mindset that you’re supposed to apologize for being true to yourself and for chasing your dreams. Standing in your greatness is not something you need to ever apologize for or to shrink back and hide from.
I want you to proudly unapologetically post your 10 amazing facts, and you’ll get some bonus points from me if you include how you’re going to stop apologizing. Because here is the biggest takeaway I want you to get from this episode. The world needs millions more examples of powerful, confident, and passionate women to break the cycle. And it all starts with you and me today, right now. Be unapologetically you. All right, I’m going to be watching for those posts. Again, be sure to tag me because I want to cheer you on. I want to celebrate you, and I truly believe by posting these
facts, you’re going to help other women start to see their own greatness as well. And you can definitely bet. We are going to be talking all about this in my Facebook group, so if you have not joined my free community, what are you waiting for?
Go ahead and join. Go to Tanyadalton.com/group, again, that’s Tanya with an o and a Y. Join the group. It’s a great place on the internet where we can support and encourage and talk about our 10 amazing facts about each other, okay. Speaking of amazing, strong women, I am a really excited about next week’s guest. I’ve got Kristin Ley on the show who has a great story about how she’s made some big shifts in her life, and in her work, and in her business, and I think you’re really, really going to enjoy the show. All right, until then, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. Want to learn more about your own productivity style? Simply go to Tanyadalton.com to take her free quiz and get free
resources designed just for you.
Page 7 of 7