One in three women (33%) admit they over-apologise at work, almost double the number of men (17%), according to new research by The University of Law.

The findings show a crisis of confidence among women in the UK when it comes to workplace communication. According to ULaw’s data, 52% of women will often worry about colleagues judging them based on how they communicate – 41% of men said the same.

Despite more men admitting to being indirect (25%), using too many words to make a point (37%) and using filler words (18%), still women are much more uncomfortable with being direct in asking for what they want. Two thirds (66%) of women agreed that being direct and to the point with people makes them uncomfortable, while 49% of men said the same.

It appears that being direct when asking for what they want in the workplace is something many workers struggle with. More than half (58%) said this is something that makes them feel uncomfortable, which interestingly increases to 75% among those aged 25-34-years-old.

Considering the findings, ULaw’s faculty of experts in law, business and employability have shared their advice to empower those who struggle with workplace communication.


ULaw’s advice on the top workplace communication mishaps:

Using too many words to make a point

  • If you find your emails are spanning several paragraphs that’s usually a sure sign it may be time for a call or meeting. Our brains can only take in so much written information at once, so with several emails landing in inboxes every day the golden rule really is to keep it short and sweet where possible.
  • Try to cut out any superfluous words or phrases, remembering that shorter sentences are more likely to capture your recipient’s attention.


There are of course times at work when an apology is due. However, it’s unlikely that anyone is expecting an apology in almost every email. Before hitting send try and consider what it is you’re apologising for. Can you instead swap out the word “sorry” for “thank you”? For example, “thank you for your patience” instead of “sorry for the delay”.

Being indirect

The best way to go about getting something you need is to simply ask for it directly. Providing you mind your manners, there is never anything wrong with this. Being indirect can easily take away from your authority and can even make your communication seem unclear or confusing.

Be confident in your ability and your desired outcome but remember you can’t control the reactions of others.

Commenting on the findings and offering his advice, John Watkins, Director of Employability at ULaw, said: “The working world presents unique challenges in many forms and often at the heart of them is communication. It can be easy to overthink how you communicate with others when you’re at work. Am I being too abrupt? Do I really need that extra sentence? How can I best get what I want in this situation? Indeed, many people can spend hours agonising over one email.

“The good news is, it’s relatively simple to adjust your communication style without making any drastic changes or changing who you are as a person – and you will likely see some positive outcomes quite quickly.

“The single biggest tip to offer is to put yourself in the shoes of the people you communicate with – consider what works best for them as recipients of your message rather than what you prefer as the communicator.”

To find out more about The University of Law’s employability team, visit: