ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

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.

 

Mar 10

2016

Help! My Elevator Pitch is Falling (Seriously) Flat Chested.

Mar 10, 2016

There’s this collective group groan that happens when the words, “elevator pitch” are spoken. (For the record, it sounds like: gggggeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrduuuurrrrrruhhhhhhSPLAT.) In my experience, this is usually for one of three reasons: Someone once insisted that if you’re ever riding in an elevator, you MUST! BE! ABLE! TO! SELL! YOURSELF! BEFORE! THE! NEXT! STOP! (So […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Sep 19

2013

How to Handle Inconsiderate Jerk Offs

Sep 19, 2013

At some point, you’re going to get into a dispute with someone. Maybe it’ll be a client. Maybe it’ll be a friend. Maybe it’ll be your 6th grade math teacher, who, first of all, is actually still alive, and second, who you’ve come to mercilessly hunt down to let her know just how much she […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Dec 11

2018

Taking Time Off for the Holidays but HAVEN’T TOLD YOUR CLIENTS? Here’s a Proven Script You Can Use (That Won’t Put Anyone’s Undies in a Bunch)

Dec 11, 2018

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 […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Sep 26

2018

How to Introduce Yourself at a Dinner Party Like a Cool-As-A-Cucumber BALLER

Sep 26, 2018

“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 […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Aug 7

2017

“…Is There Any Movement On The Price?”

Aug 7, 2017

Her name was A. She had funk to her; style. She was a bohemian turned business woman, and a proper English girl, at heart. She was tall, self-assured, and the kind of woman who refreshingly said, “no thanks” without worrying about hurting your feelings. No thanks, I don’t drink. No thanks, I’ve got to get […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Apr 21

2017

My Favorite Line for Handling Angry People With Dignity + Grace

Apr 21, 2017

“Why don’t you tell me what you think would be appropriate?” Useful language for handling complex situations like: A customer is unsatisfied. An employee is complaining. A friend is upset. Your sister is angry you don’t see her enough. A gorgeous Italian man is holding a very serious grudge because you denied his advances as […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Dec 7

2018

Boo-Yah, Time to Raise Your Rates! Here’s a Proven Script You Can Use (That Won’t Even Make It a Little Bit Awkward)

Dec 7, 2018

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 […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

Nov 13

2015

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

Nov 13, 2015

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 […]

In: Communication Skills

READ ME >>

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.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here