Here’s What Happened When I Stopped Saying ‘Sorry,’ Mostly to My Assistant
“I’m sorry your dog pooped in my shoes. Cleaning it takes time out of my day, time I could be working for you. I’m sorry.”
I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my assistant’s mouth. I recently read an Oprah article about how we, as women, apologize way too much, and now, the very words I was told to shun were coming out of my assistant’s mouth as she scrubbed my maltipoo’s feces out of flats she would slip her feet into just moments later.
I decided to take Oprah’s words to heart and stop apologizing to start empowering myself. It’s so grating when my assistant does it; I could only imagine how awful it must sound when it comes from me. I stopped saying “sorry” right then and there. “I don’t have time for this,” I said. “Just hurry up.” It felt so empowering already!
Oprah said you should replace “I’m sorry” with “Thank you.” It really flips the script. Pretty soon, I stopped saying “I’m sorry, why is this extra hot latte I asked for undrinkably hot? Are you trying to kill me via Starbucks?” and started saying “Thank you for burning my tongue and ruining my day, you incompetent shit.”
The patriarchal society we live in tells us we need to be “nice girls” and that I should apologize when I tell my assistant to do one thing and then tell her to do something contradictory five minutes later. But now that I’ve embraced my power, I’m going to question why she didn’t do what I wanted in the first place. Only men are allowed to demand that their assistants pick out all the pepitas from their salads and replace them with pumpkin seeds, and I’m sick of it. If I want my assistant to pick out all the pepitas from my salad and replace them with pumpkin seeds, I’m not going to apologize for it anymore, especially to my assistant.
Replace saying “I’m sorry” with something more confident like “You’re damn right, you’ll only take five minutes watching the entirety of Avatar then tell me what happens so I can sound like I know what I’m talking about if it ever comes up without ever actually having to watch dumb blue cat people” turns a negative into a positive, breaking us free from our patriarchal chains. Well, me, at least. I don’t know how my assistant feels about it. Does she have feelings? She shouldn’t. She’s a professional.
Try this exercise at home. Count how many times per day you say “I’m sorry.” I started keeping a tally of how often my assistant said it and then took a dollar out of her paycheck each time. It almost became a game for me! She said “Sorry, I think that sounds illegal?” but I just charged her another dollar.
Most of the time, we’re not aware that we’re apologizing. Moving my words into my consciousness was liberating. I was getting what I wanted a lot more, but also, my assistant started messing up and crying a lot more than normal. That’s not something I should apologize for, so I fired her. Some people can’t handle a strong, confident woman who knows what she wants, like an assistant who will steam clean her vagina without saying “Sorry, that’s outside my job description, and I think you should go to a professional for that.”