Ever meet someone who shows up for you as enormously powerful, although doesn’t seem to know it herself? You might find that he or she will apologize frequently, ask permission to share observations, or otherwise test the waters before they do or say something? I’m not talking about common courtesy or politeness or professionalism. It’s beyond that. It’s people who apologize for what they are about to say, for adding their thoughts to the dialogue. It sounds like this:
“Can I just throw out an idea here?”
“Is it okay if I build on what you just said?”
“I’m sorry, but I have a question about that.”
“Maybe this is something that’s already been talked about, but…”
“I’m sorry, but I disagree.”
“May I take our conversation in a different direction?”
“Is it okay with you if I give you some feedback?”
“I’m sorry, can I just add another idea?”
I’m amazed how often I see this phenomenon, particularly in fabulous executive women. I probably see it because it is one of those things as an executive coach I watch for in the leaders I work with of both genders. Anyway, if you suspect you are someone who could better own your power, here are a few things to consider:
1. Make no apologies for your thoughts, ideas, observations, insights. Offer your pearls of wisdom as gifts and contributions. You have value to add, and you deserve to be heard. Find your voice, hush your demons and speak your truth. You are always entitled to say what you want. Respecting other people and managing yourself professionally is of course important. Obviously, if you hurt someone, that’s the time to apologize.
2. Keep the ONE thing in mind: Offer No Excuses. Take responsibility for your actions, impact, and choices, but don’t put yourself in a subordinate position by generating an apology where none is warranted. If you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s no apology needed!
3. Don’t ask permission to express yourself. Just do it! It is all about self-respect. If you are communicating in a way that respects yourself, you will also be respecting others. Often we focus on how we can show respect for others without considering how we need to also respect ourselves.
4. Work with a coach or mentor to provide feedback about your executive presence and how you are communicating. Manage your brand so that you are showing up powerfully.
5. Practice at home with some mirror work. Start off with just making eye contact with the person in the mirror, and work your way up to building an authentic relationship with that person.
Women often seek to create relatedness and build community by opening with an apology or by seeking permission to share their ideas. Start to observe people at meetings, and you will notice time and again that the people who lead with apologies, excuses, or permission-seeking are the same people whose ideas get ignored and then their very same idea can be spoken later in the same meeting by another leader who owns his or her power, and it will be considered brilliant.
Own your power, find your voice, and manage your brand in every meeting, every conversation, and every interaction. You are fabulous, amazing, and powerful and have nothing to hide!
© Suzi Pomerantz. All rights reserved.