ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Stop Peeing Apologies Down Your Leg: Instead of Saying “I’m Sorry,” Say “THANK YOU”

In: Communication Skills

I used to be a really nice person.

I was the kind of person who would nod sweetly and enthusiastically, as if I had a permanent coating of cotton candy on my lips—even when I was seething inside. (Whether this made me nice or a moron is still up for debate.)

I would never question anyone else's opinions, assuming that if they thought it, that made it true; that they saw something I didn't.

I would never tell anyone “no,” usually because my “no” was always met with one of theirs—a staunch refusal to take my boundaries seriously. They'd keep coming at me, and coming at me, until I finally caved. Like they could sense my weakness as they licked their bloody lips.

I would quietly observe the people around me, thinking things about their competence—things that I'll admit were not always above board—but letting them control the discussion, anyway, because I knew better; there was something about me that signaled others to talk over me. To minimize my validity. To spit in my face with words.

And then I got into business for myself. And let me tell you what—

Running a business will force you to face every demon you've ever buried in the graveyard of your heart.

Your business problems are often your personal problems in disguise, and I had to quickly learn that I either fixed the problem, or I destroyed everything.

One of the problems that kept coming up for me?

Over apologizing for everything.

Being a nice person means you say “I'm sorry” a lot.

And saying “I'm sorry” every five minutes invites people to think that you SHOULD BE. No wonder I wasn't getting any respect as a nice person.

For example, when I first started hiring employees, I would apologize for having them do work. I would apologize for asking them to do their JOB. “I'm so sorry to put this on you!” or “I'm sorry to add this to your list, but _______.”

So naturally, you can imagine my surprise when they began overstepping their boundaries with me, too. Taking extra liberties. Stretching deadlines. Disappearing without notice. And getting moody or visibly annoyed when I would put on my boss hat.

Not good, Felicia.

But as it turns out, nice people aren't the only ones who are over apologizing in business—A LOT of us do it. We do it because we don't want to be bitches. Don't want to seem overbearing. Don't want anyone whispering behind our backs anything but the most pleasant of pleasantries.

And because we want people to know that we're GOOD HUMANS, ALRIGHT? We really ARE sorry to put anyone out, or be difficult, or be demanding. But sometimes, being in business for yourself demands it.

One of my favorite tips for overcoming the whole “I'm so sorry!” epidemic?

Instead of saying “I'm sorry,” say “THANK YOU.”

I first heard this piece of advice from Meg Worden, who is the queen of making sure you take care of you in business…whatever shape that may take. She specializes in taking care of yourself through eating the right food, but let me tell you—this lady has all SORTS of gems of wisdom rammed up her kale leaf.

 

“I'm so sorry to stick you with this” transforms into:
“Thank you so much for taking care of this.”

///

“I'm so sorry for the delay!” transforms into:
“Thanks for your patience!”

///

“I'm sorry I'm being difficult” transforms into:
“Thanks for your thoughts here.”

///

“I'm sorry for making you work late” transforms into:
“Thanks for working so hard on this project.”

 

Once you start doing this, you'll automatically hold your head a little higher, knowing that you're leading with grace—not peeing apologies down your leg.

And even better?

I bet you anything that now that you've read this, you'll catch yourself saying “I'm sorry” way more than you thought you even did. In fact, I bet you type it in an email today! (Just don't forget to hit backspace and try this tip.)

Because, you know, it IS possible to be a nice person and still be a confident leader.

Contrary to what I used to think, it's not about being nice—it's about being respected.

And respect has nothing to do with how much cotton candy you've got on your lips.

It's about the words that come out of them.

 

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Last week I gave you a savage script for what to say when you want to raise your rates come the New Year—without seeming like a total grabby, greedy, ungrateful weirdo. But guess what? This fun train’s just begun, because this week, YOU GET ANUTHAAA ONEEEE. It’s the middle of December, my friend, and that […]

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Haiiiiiiiiii! It’s December, and you know what that means! TIME TO RAISE YOUR RATES. You need to send the following email to your clients RIGHT NOW. (Like, right now. Especially because today is Friday, and this email is always served best on a Friday with a beer.) Now then. *clears throat* This miraculous email that […]

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“So, what do you do?” These are the words WE ALL DREAD, FAM. Even professional communicators—cough cough—who work online and write inappropriate blog posts and whose job titles can’t easily be corralled onto some adorable fucktard pin. This past week, however, I had the opportunity to reflect on the personal intro more than ever when I found myself at not […]

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When I worked in magazine advertising sales, every year we were sent a copy of the new rate cards from corporate. And every year, we account executives would then proceed to send an email to our clients that would say: “Hey, Janey-babe! Here’s this year’s new rate card for your records.” It wasn’t personal. Nor […]

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Being able to elegantly SAY WHAT YOU MEAN isn’t always an easy task— —particularly when you’re too busy for petty sh*t like showers, your stress hormones are being IV dripped into your veins at the rate of a class five river rapid, your head is doing Beetlejuice-style 360s as you juggle fourteen and a half clients (and their really cute idiosyncrasies—wink), […]

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Nov 13

2015

“How do I raise my rates without making it awkward?”

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Well isn’t this the motherloving question of the year. It gets asked a lot sometime between the stages of that time you started your business and worked for peanuts because you were feeling wildly insecure about your worth and holy bananas I’ve been doing this for years and I’m still barely making rent even though I […]

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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