“So many of the women I know apologize like it’s a job they were given by the government,” Dunham wrote. “I’m not sure when in my life ‘the sorries’ began, but I can distinctly remember apologizing profusely to a girl who didn’t invite me to her birthday party in second grade, after she publicly handed invitations out to the whole class in front of me.”
Other people in Dunham’s life—such as Girls producer and writer Jenni Konner—noticed her tendency to over-apologize. And, in fact, her father challenged her to see if she could go a week without saying “sorry.”
“The next day I tried to accept his challenge,” Dunham wrote. “But what do you replace sorry with? Well for starters, you can replace it with an actual expression of your needs and desires. And it turns out when you express what you want (without a canned and insincere apology) everyone benefits. Your employees know what you want from them and can do their jobs with clarity and pride. The dynamic remains healthy and open.”
Dunham says that, while she hasn’t completely stopped saying “sorry,” she did learn a lot from the experiment.
“Mind you, I am not negating the power of a real apology, especially in the workplace,” she wrote. “One of the most important things a person in charge can do is own their mistakes and apologize sincerely and specifically, in a way that shows their colleagues they have learned and they will do better (I’ll try, O.K.!?) But if most women I know—some bros too—were to keep an apology log, I bet they would find these sincere apologies are few and far between, and deeply diminished by the litany of reflex sorries they’re doling out all day.”
Read the full story over at LinkedIn.