This Is the One Habit That Makes You Seem Less Confident to Others

Kali Coleman
·3 mins read

Confidence is a fickle thing, and it can waver easily. Many people want to appear confident to others, even if they don't necessarily feel confident—especially because confidence is usually seen as a desirable trait in any relationship, profession, or even minor interaction. However, you could be betraying your insecurity without even realizing it. According to experts, this is the one habit that makes you seem less confident to others: over-apologizing. Read on to find out how you might be undermining yourself, and make sure you also ditch these 5 Words That Experts Say Make You Sound Less Confident.

"One bad habit that we may find ourselves in is over-apologizing," says Michelle Pargman, LMHC, a mental health counselor based in Florida. "Spending so much energy on disclaiming our own thoughts and opinions can end up inadvertently disempowering ourselves with our audience."

This is a clear sign of a lack of confidence because "people who are confident believe they have the right to have opinions," according to Melissa Snow, a certified life coach. And when self-assured people end up presenting their feelings and opinions in an authentic manner without apologizing, that makes their confidence clear to others.

Mid adult woman is nervous during the interview for a management position.
Mid adult woman is nervous during the interview for a management position.

Tanya Dalton, a productivity expert and growth strategist, says many people fall into the bad habit of saying "I'm sorry" when they don't actually have a reason to apologize—and that lack of reasoning is pretty obvious to others.

"How many times have you said 'I'm sorry' for no reason at all? We apologize if we're running late to work, or need to reschedule a meeting because we have a sick kid at home. We apologize for our feelings, emotions, even our success," she says. "But by saying 'I'm sorry' all the time, we unintentionally devalue ourselves."

Dalton does note that this confidence-buster appears more commonly in women. And that's backed up by research: An oft-cited study published in 1989 by linguist Janet Holmes found that for nearly 200 apologies, 75 percent of them were offered up by women, not men.

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But why do women apologize even when they aren't sorry? Pargman says that many times, women are attempting to "convey courtesy, kindness, and compassion towards others" when they apologize for things that don't require an apology. And when women apologize for their feelings, thoughts, or opinions, they are also "attempting to convey that others have a right to their opinions and views," as well. There are better ways to do this without unnecessarily apologizing, she explains.

"More authentic communication could be saying something like 'I'm not trying to impose my beliefs on you,' and then sharing what your beliefs are," she says. This way you are politely getting your message across without apologizing, while still showing that you have confidence in the importance of your opinions—even if others disagree. And for more ways you may be hurting your self-esteem, discover 17 Ways You're Destroying Your Confidence and Don't Know It.