A powerful conversation, presentation and meeting tip

Guest post
by Lauren Sergy of Up Front Communication

“Sorry” is quite possibly one of the most pernicious words I hear in regular conversation. When used in its truest sense, a sincere sorry is lovely – both strong and vulnerable in the way it admits and accepts responsibility, or empathetic in the way it expresses understanding. These uses, however, are heard with woeful infrequency.Presentation conversation and meeting tip and advice - don't say sorry


Verbal submission?

More often than not I hear sorry used as reduction term, as a form of pre-emptive verbal submission. We say sorry when we give an opinion, say sorry for asking for help, say sorry before speaking up in meetings, say sorry as a way to fill silences between sentences. On one hand, this compulsion can be seen as a throw-away word.  We have lots of those, little words we use to fill in sound space when our brains are working.  The danger of using sorry as a filler or an opener is that is has the same effect on our thinking as standing with our shoulders hunched and gaze low.  It diminishes us in our own mind.

Powerless opener

Whenever I have heard sorry used as someone’s go-to opener when they begin to speak, it has never resulted in them giving the impression of confidence or competence.  This is unfortunate; one of the worst offenders in my circle of acquaintances is a remarkably competent man who gives good ideas and input.  Yet instead of presenting his thoughts and ideas fearlessly or with pride, he physically and verbally shrinks, peppering his phrases with sorry.

Don’t be sorry

Don’t be sorry for what you have to say.  Don’t even think sorry for what you are going to say.  Don’t think or feel sorry for giving your thoughts voice or for “taking up” your listeners time.  Putting your ideas forward is an act of generosity, and conversation is an act of sharing. So share without restraint. You can be polite without being sorry, so for everyone’s sake, do so!

Thanks to Lauren Sergy of Up Front Communication for allowing us to share this excellent communication advice and article from her blog http://upfrontco.com

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About the author 

Terry Pithers

TERRY PITHERS Canadian speaker, humorist and business etiquette expert. If you are interested in booking me for a presentation, keynote or workshop, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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  1. I certainly agree Rhiannon. Toastmasters is a great organization for any professional to join. I was a member earlier in my career and it helped me correct some poor habits I was unaware of and gave me confidence to speak in public and do presentations.
    It might even help some of our politicians, Giovannie. 🙂

  2. If you recognize this or other ‘crutch words’ in your speaking consider joining Toastmasters International. I did and the afternoon after my first meeting I was already noticing and correcting (by omitting) my personal ums, and ahs. Over time the evaluators helped me to find phrases and other quirks in my speech patterns to sound more professional.

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