When things go rough at the workplace, women have a tendency of over-apologising, feeling that it is what is expected of them. Years of conditioning have razed our confidence in our own abilities to the ground. We feel it is our duty to keep things on track. To govern every situation, we are involved in. So, when a deadline is missed or there is a critical error in work, the situation sits on our chest like a rock weighing a ton, until we have profoundly apologised for it.

Sometimes, women tend to apologise even when they are not entirely at fault. When the mistake is just a technical or collective oversight. Why do they feel the need to say sorry in such cases? Why do we take it personally when something goes wrong at work, which was not in our hands in the first place? As this tweet recently pointed out, there are numerous ways we can bypass saying sorry and sinking in the sea of blame.

To stop apologising at work, women first need to purge their consciousness of this constant sense of accountability.

Why so apologetic?

There are numerous reasons why apologies don’t do anything to improve most situations. A promise to look into the mistakes and to commit more sincerely perhaps will diffuse any tension more effectively. Besides, if someone is pointing out to your mistakes, they also deserve a note of thanks, instead of a sorry. I agree a sorry diffuses tension. It is even essential to apologise in selective situations. But to sprinkle sorry on every mess won’t make the situation go away, will it? Besides, I have learned from personal experience that it doesn’t always put one in a good light.


  • Women often have a tendency to over-apologise when thing go wrong at the workplace. 
  • We are conditioned to be accountable, so this need to be apologetic for workplace mess, stems from that.
  • But often, no good comes out of showering apologies and it only crushes our self-worth and confidence to mulch.

But women are conditioned to apologise. We are taught to be accountable for all our actions. To be polite and be a “good girl”. This urge to take the blame for every mess up in our vicinity, even at work becomes an inheritance. Also, we dread coming across as abrasive and non-committal.

Another important factor here could be the gender bias women face at the workplace. It is a struggle for women to stay afloat as professionals, under tough scrutiny. Instead of empathy for the double workload, we face at home and work, somehow the male colleagues look at it as a weakness. Women are often accused of side-lining work duties for domestic reasons. And over time women have ended up believing that this criticism holds true. They feel afraid of losing goodwill and coming across as insincere professionals.

I have been there, done that. I have written apologies to publishers for rejecting my work, because I felt I had wasted their time with my not-so-up-to-the-mark work.

Then I have also apologised for making errors, for failing to live up to expectations, or for just being in the vicinity of a workplace disaster. “So sorry, this happened”. Then someone pointed it out to me that errors are all part and parcel of work and domestic life. That instead of wasting time on writing apology mails, why not rectify the mistakes and move ahead. Have I stopped apologising altogether? No. That sense of accountability feels like a part of my genetic make-up. It still nudges the grey cells in my brain, but often I manage to restrain it from sending instructions to my fingers, to write a sorry.

Picture Credit : NewLoveTimes

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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