Save The Apologies For When You Really Need Them

There are real things in your art business and marketing you should apologize for.
Apologize when you miss a deadline, are late to an appointment, or (oops!) accidentally use the Cc instead of the Bcc line for your email blast.

Casey Klahn, All The Colors Field
©Casey Klahn, All The Colors Field. Pastel, 5.5 x 10.5 inches. Used with permission.

Of course you should apologize when you do something wrong, but don’t apologize for things that aren’t hurting people or for things you have no control over.

Stop Apologizing For Everything

Apologizing unnecessarily waters down your real apologies when you most need them. It also gives away some of your power and weakens your position.
I have learned in my business not to apologize for the content I provide unless I know in my heart it was subpar. Why? Because it’s helping the people it’s intended for. If someone doesn’t get value from what I share, they weren’t the intended recipient.
If someone complains about a product or program (thankfully, very rare), I’ll review the information to see if I could have phrased something differently so that it reaches its intended audience. I’ll use the situation as a learning experience.
Don’t apologize for any of these in your art business:

  • The way your website looks or that it hasn’t been updated
  • That you are late sending your newsletter
  • That your images aren’t professional
  • That you don’t have gallery representation
  • That you haven’t posted to your blog recently

Here’s what to do instead.

Demonstrate Improvement

Sometimes it’s necessary to relate that you know the effort needs improving, but you can do this without apologizing. Practice the following.

  • My website needs some updating. We are evaluating the best direction to go.
  • The images of my art aren’t showing off the work to its best advantage. I’m currently taking a class to help me photograph my work.
  • I don’t have gallery representation right now, but I’m always looking for a good fit for my work.

These show you’re aware that your marketing isn’t up to your standards, and that you’re doing something about it rather than apologizing or making excuses.
Always be improving so that you’re never tempted to apologize.
What are you sorry/not sorry for?

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24 thoughts on “Save The Apologies For When You Really Need Them”

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Thanks, Shari! Hey, I’m throwing a party in ABQ on June 20. Maybe you can come. 😉

  1. Great advice, but I think Canadians need a different strategy. Sorry is almost a punctuation mark, or opening salvo here. The good thing about being sorry all the time, is that it gets that out of the way, and you can move on to all the ways you’re not sorry. I am kidding but I was trying to explain to an American friend what happens here in a supermarket when you bump carts. You could be delayed by 15 minutes while each party apologizes, and says, “no I’m sorry.”
    No joke.
    Okay. So clearly we need (I need) this information more than most people. I started my chat off last night with sorry. It was genuine though, I am really sorry (for myself) that I have been sick for a week now, and trying to keep going.
    Your posts always make me feel more resilient, and able to carry on. I am definitely the opposite of sorry that I get to read them.
    XO Barbara

  2. I thoroughly agree with what you are saying and can especially relate to the sentence “If someone doesn’t get value from what I share, they weren’t the intended recipient.” Thank you for writing this excellent post!!

  3. i agree, apologizing for things that you mentioned just makes you look weak and out of touch, and ultimately most people won’t even notice (cuz we’re all so busy) if you skipped a post or two on your blog, or your website isn’t quite updated. you just do your best…then you never need to apologize!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Kathryn: There are definitely some blogs that people would miss. And they’d miss you if you have raving fans. But you can pick up where you left off without apologizing.

  4. Thank you for this one Alyson. I won’t say I’m sorry for not “blogging in” lately. I’m busy with my life and art. AND instead of apologizing (and wasting time)for something more I might have done, no apologies. I’m the only one who knows that something might be missing.

  5. Margaret Stermer-Cox

    Isn’t it funny how some of us feel compelled to apologize? I have the habit but am getting over it.
    I did enjoy seeing the artwork of artist Casey Klahn. I admire his work.

  6. All that obsequiousness makes a person look like a rank amateur, as well as a namby-pamby. Sometimes, if you must apologize for something less than dire, couch it in humor–it’ll go over a lot better, in my opinion.

  7. Oh Barbara, I was thinking the same thing, Canadians need not apply here…We apologize for everything…We are famous worldwide for being polite…Someone bought someone a coffee at Tim Horton’s one day, for the person in line behind them because they had been waiting a little long, & it became a 30 person event, with each person in the line buying the person behind them’s coffee…I find when I don’t apologize for things straight away , other Canadians think that either I am rude or a foreigner…(all that said we know what Alyson is saying- get the job done right instead of making excuses…Which is a universal…) Sari p.s. I apologize for this being anecdotal about Canadians & slightly off topic… 🙂

  8. THANK YOU for this post!
    I’ve been on a campaign lately to get myself and my women friends to stop apologizing for things that don’t need apologizing for! Why do we do that?
    I know we have been trained to make nice, but really it’s a bad habit that many women have. I rarely hear men say they are sorry… (and I mean in a superfluous kind of way, of course. My husband can say it when he means it — LOL!)

  9. Hi Canadian artists,
    You’ve just given me one more reason to want to move to Canada. Please don’t apologize for being Canadian or for being nice! :^)

  10. I think this is a gender issue. Generally, women apologize a lot more than men. I had the recent experience of delayed service in a restaurant and the waitress (although not at fault) apologized at least three times. With a smile I assured her it was not a problem and gently told her that it was my experience that many women over-apologize and that men do once, if at all. I wish someone had told me this decades ago!

  11. I so agree with what you’re saying. There is a fine line though, as many of our fellow Canadians pointed out. 🙂 You can’t assume that everyone will be understanding and sometimes an apology clears the air for the real meat of the issue. But- you might seem weak if your apology really isn’t needed or if you over do it. So what to do? Listen carefully to Alyson! Thanks for the great post!

  12. I don’t even let my students get start with “disclaimers” i.e. making excuses or apologizing for their work. If there is something that needs to be addressed, we look at it together and discuss, but apologizing for their work is not acceptable. Good reminder for all of us ALyson, where ever we are with our careers.

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