The way to break any bad habit is to starting by paying attention to the times when your bad habit shows up. Try to notice every time you fall into the rut and repeat your bad habit. Ask your friends at work to pay attention and remind you when you’re apologizing for nothing.
As you become aware of the times and places where your bad habit typically emerges, prepare for those situations in advance. Prepare for someone to ask you, “Do you think you’ll have that report ready by Friday?” Practice a response that doesn’t involve an apology, like this one: “Friday sounds perfect — you’ll have the report then.”
Apologizing constantly is not the only bad habit that many people bring to work. Here are nine other habits that can kill your professional credibility:
1. Interrupting people, or not listening to them while they speak but bursting in at the first opportunity after they’ve spoken, in order to share your opinion. If you have this bad habit, practice consciously listening to your conversational partner and then asking them, “Would you like to say more about that?” before sharing your own thoughts.
2. Failing to use “Please” and “Thank you” in your interactions with your teammates, your manager, customers and vendors and everyone else you interact with at work.
3. Leaving details to the last minute so that you have to run around averting a crisis instead of planning ahead.
4. Being a suck-up to the boss, spying on your coworkers and reporting back to your manager or sharing one set of opinions with your teammates and a completely different set with your boss.
5. Using “uptalk” — speech that ends every sentence with an ascending inflection, like a question. Here’s what uptalk sounds like:
You: So, I have to finish this report by Friday? I have to get it to the VP so he can put the pricing plan together? That’s why I asked you to meet with me, so we can go over it before I present it to the VP? If we can just go through it quickly that will be great? I really appreciate your time?
6. Making a point of staying later at the office than everyone else and arriving earlier in the morning than anyone else does. Effective employees get their work done during the work day. You will never become more credible by working longer hours to show the boss how dedicated you are.
Acknowledge yourself whenever you make it through a day without repeating your bad habit, and give yourself a break when you slip back into the habit. It takes time to train yourself out of a bad habit and into a new, better one.
Be sure and let Brenda know that you’re taking her feedback to heart and that you appreciate it. Tell her that you’re working on the over-apologizing thing and you are grateful for her support.
7. Forgetting to write down details and note appointments and commitments in your calendar.
8. Taking credit for your coworkers’ ideas and accomplishments.
10. Conducting loud, personal phone conversations in earshot of your teammates. Nobody wants to hear you arguing with your sweetheart or booking your spa treatments. Save those calls for a time when you’re outside the building, or use text instead of voice.
We don’t always know when we are irritating the people around us. Brenda did you a favor when she pointed out how your over-apologizing habit may be holding you back.
Now you have a project to dive into. Take Brenda’s coaching seriously and begin to notice when you’re tempted to apologize although there is nothing to apologize for — and you will overcome this small hurdle in no time!
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