Stop apologising. Say thank you instead.

That was the message I got from Shellye Archambeau this week who shared her life and work lessons in a fireside chat with Xers.

Shellye is an extraordinary leader who worked her way up from intern to tech CEO and board member during a time when there were even fewer women in tech than today, and even fewer Black women. A woman in tech trailblazer and true role model, she just published Unapologetically Ambitious, a book that shares her roadmap on taking risks, breaking barriers, and creating your own success.

One of the points Shellye makes is that women and people of colour tend to apologise too much. Instead of saying “Sorry I am late”, she recommends saying “Thank you for your patience.” Saying thank you is gracious without putting yourself down.

In the 24 hours after Shellye’s talk, I caught myself apologising several times: to my team that I was late with some work because my Macbook died, to people whose email I hadn’t replied to straight away, to my husband, to my daughter for asking her to hurry up and brush her teeth. I changed to “thank you” when I noticed it in time, but several times my apology habit got me. I noticed my feelings when this happened: Apologising doesn’t do anything to alleviate my guilt, even if the other person accepts the apology. Saying thank you always makes me feel better, and I feel more connected to the person I’m thanking.

Studies have shown that a regular gratitude practice really does increase happiness. I want less guilt and more gratitude in my life. Since many of my human interactions are through my laptop these days, I have stuck a big note on it to remind me to stop apologising and say thank you instead.

Thank you to Helen and Angelie for bringing Shellye to X, the moonshot factory. We’ve hosted some extraordinary female leaders as part of our ongoing speaker series (Celeste Kidd‘s talk was another standout for me), but Shellye’s message really struck me.

Thank you, Shellye, for giving me the nudge I needed, and sorry I haven’t finished your book yet. (Just kidding!)

#UnapologeticallyShellye #UnapologeticallyAmbitious #stopapologising #justsaythankyou #womenintechnology #blackwomenintech

This article was first published on LinkedIn Pulse on 4 February 2021. Please comment there.