Sorry, but over-apologizing can be an annoying habit. The need to apologize for things that are out of your control, or don't require an apology, sends up red flags. It may stem from an over-conditioning for being polite. Most often, people issue undue apologies to avoid conflict, or out of an eagerness to please. It can also be a sign that you undervalue yourself or feel undeserving of success. This is not an image you want to portray to your client, so avoid the "sorry, not sorry" routine--especially in these eleven instances.
1. Discussing your rates.
Talking about ROI is a good thing, but when you over-explain or apologize for your prices or rates it will backfire on you. Defending your prices comes off as though you are not confident about your value. State your rates with conviction and stop talking, and please don't ever apologize for being worth every cent.
2. "Bothering" them.
Your clients are your equals, not mythical heroes. If you have a good reason to contact them, stop saying you're sorry to have bothered them. Beginning an email or phone call with, "Sorry to bother you, but..." immediately puts you in the wrong and establishes the other person as dominant. You are not an imposition, you're doing your job.
3. Being busy.
Sure, you want to provide outstanding customer service, but you don't want to be a pushover. Many entrepreneurs have difficulty drawing the line that separates the two. When you are not available to clients on the spot it means you're busy, so stop apologizing for it. They must have hired the right person for the job since you're in high demand.
4. Being early.
Better early than late. If they are not ready for you, they'll ask you to wait. No need for apologies on either side.
5. Requiring more information.
If you're in the middle of a job and require more information or clarification to do it right, you have no choice but to contact your client. To limit the unplanned calls and emails, organize your materials and figure out what's missing or incomplete. You can manage your client's expectations by letting them know in advance that more information-gathering is on the horizon.
6. Not replying right away.
"Sorry I couldn't get right back to you." No, you're not. Establish boundaries with clients from the start by making them aware of policies relating to customer service and any other grey areas. Unless it's a true emergency, offering a 24-hour response time is appropriate.
7. Being unavailable during weekends and evenings.
Sometimes we have deadlines that mandate we work after hours, but don't make a habit of responding to clients unless the situation merits it. Again, inform new clients of your customer service policies and stick to them. Otherwise, you will never have a life.
8. Disagreeing with someone.
The client does not always know best. They probably hired you because something isn't working well for them, so it's your job to challenge their thinking. Present options and alternatives and then let them choose. Apologizing undermines your reputation as an expert.
9. Saying no.
Yes, I believe that anything is possible in reference to challenging the status quo. However, some things have their limits. Is what your customer is asking of you beyond scope? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Are they asking for something that makes you feel taken advantage of? Saying no is something strong people do. A demanding client may not like it but they'll respect you for it.
10. Needing time to think or gather information.
Most clients don't expect you to have all the answers at your fingertips, yet many entrepreneurs feel inadequate when they can't offer a solution or answer a question off the cuff. Speak up if you need more time to process or investigate and establish a timeframe in which you'll get back to them. They'd rather you be right than hasty in your response.
11. Ending a conversation.
Again, a boundary issue that's common among entrepreneurs. Overly long conversations usually stem from a need to please, a desire to prove something, and/or a fear of disapproval. Yes, there are those times when you're actually enjoying the conversation, but you still need to draw reasonable limits-;or you'll pay for it later. Don't apologize, instead, give them a heads up on when you need to end the discussion and wrap it up accordingly.
Over-apologizing is a tough habit to break but it will make you a stronger person, and probably a more highly respected entrepreneur. Reserve the apologies for the times you screw up, as all of us do.