10 Expert Steps Startups Can Take to Stop Apologising, Silence That Inner Critic and Find Confidence

This month, I am unapologetically celebrating the success of my debut book ‘STOP APOLOGISING - Silence Your Inner Critic, Find Your Confidence, Stop Saying Sorry’ as it continues to soar the global book charts… so, I would like to share with you my 10 expert steps startups can take to stop apologising, silence that inner critic and dind confidence…

As an International Positive Psychology expert and coach, speaker and now global best-selling author, I help busy startup founders, business owners and leaders to play to their strengths, succeed without sacrifice and create a life they love, so they don’t let fear get in the way of reaching their potential.

I have spent a lot of my 18 years in corporate roles, noticing my colleagues and clients apologising.

“Sorry for interrupting!”

“Sorry, this may be a stupid question.”

“Sorry, I know everyone else knows what’s going on but…”

“Sorry for taking up your time.”


So often, I would let people know (in a kind and supportive way) they were doing this and they’d respond with, “Sorry! I know I say sorry all the time, but I just don’t know how to stop. Sorry!”

That is why, I am passionate about speaking up about this topic that strikes a chord with so many of us, because the impact of apologising too much can be huge.

And, the problem goes so much deeper than saying sorry whilst working or in meetings. The bigger issue is what we say to ourselves. Are we saying sorry for being ourselves? Apologising for living? For taking up space? For not feeling good enough? Have you (like so many people) ever said or thought that you’re stupid or not good enough, that you have to be perfect or don’t deserve to be where you are? That you’re ‘lucky’? I know I’ve said quite a few of these to myself a lot over the years.

My 10 Steps We Can Take to: Stop Apologising, Silence That Inner Critic and Find Confidence

Imagine talking with confidence. Imagine feeling confident. Imagine having such confidence that you don’t feel the need to apologise. Imagine believing in yourself and backing yourself. Imagine confidently achieving all that you want in life. What would you do with more confidence? What would you achieve? How would life be different?

  1. Realise why you’re apologising - The first and important step to stop apologising, is to realise why you do it in the first place; Is it a habit? Were you given feedback that you’re too aggressive or direct? Do you feel like you don’t deserve to be in the room? By stopping and realising why you apologise, means you’re more likely to be able to change and instead sound more assertive.
  2. Be consciously aware of what you say - Become aware of the language you use, both to others and to yourself. Are your go-to phrases ‘sorry to interrupt’ or ‘sorry this may be a stupid question’? Start being aware of what you say to others and then what you’re saying to yourself. I interviewed my friend Hannah when I started writing this book and she told me, “I realised it was a habit, but I also felt like I didn’t deserve to be where I was. But now ‘sorry’ is no longer my go-to word; I know the value I bring and I’m so much more confident being me! I’m even teaching and empowering my daughters with all that I now know.”
  3. Be more assertive - When you stop apologising and sound more assertive, people will take you more seriously and have a more positive picture of you. You will be able to negotiate better and make more of an impact. This isn’t about being rude, but stop and ask yourself ‘do I need to apologise right now’ often the answer is no! By starting a sentence more assertively instead of with an apology, you’ll feel happier too.
  4. Tackle the imposter voice - I wasted years telling myself I was lucky and feeling I wasn’t good enough, despite my successful career. I have invested thousands in myself, doing the deep inner work, to realise why I believed these things and what I could do about my inner critic. You need to tackle it head on, because amazing things can happen when you overcome your inner critic. First, tune into that voice, what are they saying to you? It could be that ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you have to be perfect’. Secondly, know that the voice is trying to keep you safe. Your brain is trying to protect you and that’s amazing! It’s trying to keep you safe from failing or embarrassment. So finally, you get to say thank you. Thank you for trying to keep me safe. Recognising your inner critic is trying to keep you safe will be more effective than trying to put it in a box.
  5. Now, choose to listen to your inner cheerleader - We all have an inner critic, but we all have an inner cheerleader too. What are they trying to tell you? What is your truth? Take a moment to listen to them. They’ll be telling you ‘you are good enough’, ‘you are powerful’, ‘you are deserving’... I even had one person feel so alive when they tuned into their inner cheerleader that they told me “I am a kung-fu panda”, which I just loved. You get to choose to listen to your inner cheerleader every day.
  6. Focus on what’s working, rather than what’s not working - Focusing on your strengths and nurturing what you’re good at, increases your well being and in turn, happier people are healthier, more productive, more optimistic and achieve more. What are you good at? What do you find easy? What positive feedback have people given you? Spend as much time as possible using your strengths and you’ll boost your confidence.
  7. Create your list of replacement phrases - Spend a few minutes writing down your apologetic phrases and deciding what you can replace them with. ‘Sorry for being late’ could change to ‘thank you for your patience’, ‘sorry to chase’ could pivot to ‘can you update me on’ and ‘sorry this may be a stupid question’ could be ‘I have a question’. What are your replacement phrases?
  8. Find your sticky toffee pudding - Imagine being out for dinner, you've eaten way too much food and are full! But, the desert menu comes and you see sticky toffee pudding on the menu, and guess what… You find room!! (Well I do!) – When I worked in Corporate, helping people was my sticky toffee pudding! I could be up to my eyes with deadlines, presentations, meetings… but, when someone asked if I had 5 minutes to help them my answer was always yes! I always found room. What’s your sticky toffee pudding? What do you always find time for? Once you find it, approach it with as much passion and commitment as you can and watch your confidence grow.
  9. Invest in yourself - An investment in yourself, whether of money or time, will give you a huge boost. You may invest in yourself to turn your strengths into superpowers like I did with getting qualified as a Positive Psychology Coach. I didn’t just want to be a good coach, I want to be a great coach and that takes investment. Or, you may invest in yourself to help your mindset. Whether you work in corporate or have your own business, you could have the best strategy in the world, but only by believing in yourself will you truly achieve success and happiness.
  10. Step out of your comfort zone - We often love to sit in our comfort zone, it’s nice and safe and we won’t fail. But outside of our comfort zone is growth. You just need to pierce through the fear that sits around your comfort zone. You can do that by remembering to listen to your inner cheerleader, playing to your strength and believing in yourself to say YES to opportunities. By taking these steps, you’ll sound more assertive and more importantly, you’ll feel more assertive, which will boost your confidence.