I received an email from the young woman who is my son’s catechism teacher. Her message was three brief paragraphs and took about 30 seconds to read. So, why at the end of her message did she say, “I am sorry this is so long. I promise the email next week will be much shorter!” ?!?!?!
She did absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, her message did everything right.
- It was sent to the right email address.
- Her greeting was fine.
- She identified herself and the woman who is her co-teacher.
- She told us a little about herself.
- She explained the lesson they had just covered in class and related it to the homework that came home.
- She indicated that there would be future emails that would include similar information.
- Her message was grammatically correct and free of misspellings.
So, why the apology?
Maybe someone told her that her messages were too long and she was preemptively protecting herself from backlash or complaining. Gosh I hope not, but highly probable. Maybe she thinks that being self-deprecating makes her more likable. (It doesn’t. It actually reduces her credibility.) Maybe, and most likely, is that this is how she has been socialized.
She is only a sophomore in college, studying in a STEM field dominated by men. If this is how she is acting in a volunteer role, how will she be able to stand up for herself and her ideas when she is out in “in the real world?”
This needs to stop.
I emailed her back and said thanks for the professional note. I also told her that she didn’t need to apologize. Maybe she’ll read it and take it to heart. Maybe she won’t. I hope she does. I hope that it planted a seed that will someday grow into confidence. I hope that there are others, especially other women, helping her see that she only needs to apologize if she has done something apology-worthy.
We can do better. Watch this video for examples of how to flip the script and get what you need without saying sorry.
Dear Miss S,
THANK YOU for the work you are doing with the third grade catechism class. Your service is important and meaningful. I am grateful that my son is in your class and look forward to the many wonderful things he will learn about his faith this year. You are a great role model. Keep up the great work.
Monica- a grateful parent