I recently headed out see iconic Australian rock artist, Renee Geyer in concert. The theme, Strong Women of Song, was too good to resist!
I haven't been out much lately, so I was delighted when the early evening easily lived up to it’s promise - a grungy venue, an ageing audience who remembered Renee from her heyday, with three strong female artists in the lineup.
However, one aspect of the evening remains deeply troubling and as a salutary reminder.
The first act came out. A newer artist with a great outfit in a themed blues set. Fun, mournful, great music, even better lyrics, with some light patter between songs. Entertaining and memorable in her own way.
I settled in with anticipation because the evening was billed to get better.
As the second act emerged on stage, she immediately apologised for not being good at the patter between the sets. So after a bit of initial patter she launched into an amazing song - full sound, high energy, and quite a contrast to her diminutive stature and her intro.
But it went downhill from there.
If this artist apologised once, she must have apologised 45 times and we could see and feel her stage presence diminishing.
It was excruciating to witness and only got worse as her set progressed.
It got so bad that at one point, an audience member went up to her to remind her that her music was great and to stop apologising because she was shooting herself in the foot. She apologised for apologising and wasn't able to stop.
Sadly, this is my strongest memory of the artist! She might be talented but her low self esteem and lack of awareness about the impact of her over apologetic presence took the stage front and centre, rather than her amazing sound.
Then it was time for Ms Geyer. She was poised, collected and took ownership of the room. She was totally awesome. She knew it, we knew it and we were delighted to be entertained by it.
The contrast could not have been more extreme -
from over apologising to owning the room
from weakness to strength
from downplaying and second guessing, to uplifting
from underestimating artist to artist owning her own awesome.
What a way to finish!
Many women over apologise. It's been drummed into us that sorry stands for polite. Then when we see it modelled by others around us it becomes our new normal unless we're clued in.
We apologise for
when we want to move past someone who is blocking our way
when we are bumped or surprised as though it was our fault
landing a strong or contrary opinion
for not fitting the mould
not being good enough
for being too good ..... and the list goes on.
I even heard someone apologise for winning a role that once would have gone to a guy!
IT’S BECOME A HABIT
Whether you’re an aspiring artist or aspiring leader - over apologising will hold your career back like wearing lead boots. Payrises, plum assignments or big promotions? Not so easy for you.
Humility is one thing but false modesty, self deprecation and over apologising are other beasts.
When you over apologise, you undermine your credibility, leaving people doubting that you know what you’re talking about or that you're any good at all. It makes you appear weak, lacking in confidence and less leaderly.
Worse? It feeds the small doubting voice inside your own head that deep down doesn’t feel worthy, and that’s a slippery slope to nowhere.
It’s got to stop.
Don’t be like our over apologetic 2nd act who lost her credibility. Instead, channel your inner Renee Geyer and -#ownyourownawesome with the best of them. Become incredible instead.
Then save sorry for when you truly mean it or when it matters most, and it will have far more impact anyway.
YOUR THOUGHTS? I love replacing sorry with thank you. It's an easy substitute. Graciousness goes far. What do you replace sorry with? Or are you a serial sorry-er? Drop me a note and let me know