Why being a #GirlBoss means never having to say you're sorry

May 25, 2017
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I would be lying if I said that Angela Merkel wasn’t my homegurl. A powerful, determined woman who doesn’t apologise for her beliefs and stands by her decisions. I hope that we can all be like Angela one day.

The truth is that to be a successful woman you have to quit being such a girl. I’m not only talking about achieving adult-world success either, I’m talking about your part-time gig, your group project at uni, your volunteering committee or your winter internship. There are a few subconscious things that we all do that affects how seriously we’re taken and how assertive we present ourselves and while they’re not necessarily bad, the first step to changing them is realising that we’re doing them.

Saying sorry

Girls are so apologetic that we’ll say sorry to inanimate objects if we bump into them. Guys, on the other hand, will blame the inanimate object for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being overly sorry is bad for both our self-confidence as well as the confidence others place in us. Only be sorry once and then move on. The trick here is to replace “Sorry” with “I apologise”. With that many syllables, it’s a more conceded effort. It also invites you to premise your apology with a healthy dose of reality, for example, “I apologise for the miscommunication but based on our initial group meeting we agreed that…” etc.

An apology should not be a way to resolve a conflict you didn’t create either. It makes it look like the mistake was your fault when it wasn’t. Instead, turn off that instinct to apologise and turn on the instinct to problem solve.

Being OK without a break

Who run the world? Girls (Knowles, 2011). Beyonce knows as well as I do that girls get things DONE. And that usually means we’re okay working through our lunch hour to do it.

But working through our break is bad for two reasons. Firstly, working without taking a break is bad for your productivity, focus and concentration. Secondly, if your superiors are noticing that you’re always working through your break, they’re not always going to think its commendable. Instead, it might look like you’re overwhelmed, over-worked and not coping with the workload.

Being afraid to ask questions

I will never believe anyone who says “There are no stupid questions”. There definitely are. The difference between a stupid question and a helpful question is its potential to clarify something for the most amount of people. Before asking a question, apply the filter “Will this question only apply to me?” If yes, maybe it’s best to ask when the meeting is done or over email. If no (/you can sense the vibe of the group is a bit confused), ask away. AND DON’T SAY SORRY WHEN YOU DO.

Waiting to be noticed

If there’s a promotion going at work or you’re trying to nail a grad job after your internship, waiting to be noticed isn’t going to get you anywhere fast – being modest and hard-working will only get you so far. Approach your boss or your supervisor and tell them you’re ready. You have absolutely nothing to lose! What are they going to do? Fire you for being too keen? It also gives you an opportunity to get some feedback so that if you’re not quite ready, you know exactly what to focus on until the next opportunity comes along.

Letting others inconvenience you

If they had printed shirts that read “Waste my time” I would own a seven-day set. We need to stop being happy tolerating people’s personal and professional BS. Personally, there comes a time when you have to draw the line between casual conversation and proper work. This means NOT SAYING SORRY but instead saying “I hate to cut you off Ben, but I’ve got to get this restock done before tonight – let’s chat again soon”. There’s got to be a balance between building relationships with co-workers and being job-focused.

Professionally, someone else’s incompetence should not delay you. For example, if someone’s submission to a group assignment due tomorrow is a piece of trash you might have to pull an all-nighter to make up for it. But where it’s not due tomorrow, feel free to drop a reality bomb- ‘This wasn’t what we agreed on in the meeting. I would appreciate you bringing it up to speed by Thursday.’ Before you let someone else’s mistake take over your life, negotiate a situation where both parties produce the best outcome possible together.

This piece was inspired from a presentation and book by Lois P. Frankel Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.


Danica Lamb

Danica is a Laws Masters kid at UWA. She enjoys cheap coffee and 80s pop music.

Image: Parks and Recreation official Facebook page