Last year Ellen Petry, a former Google and Apple exec, offered up some worthwhile advice to women in business:
Stop saying “just.”
It wasn’t something I’d considered before, but was very much a user of. If you looked through my Sent email box at my then full-time job, you could practically see a never-ending breadcrumb trail of:
Just wanted to know…
Just wondering if…
Just to remind you…
Here’s why you should remove just from your vocabulary:
As I read Petry’s post, I began to realize how much this word had unknowingly permeated my workplace vocabulary.
I am all about respectful communication. Yet I began to notice that just wasn’t about being polite: It was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous. As I started really listening, I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message.
It was strange for me to realize exactly how habitual using the word “just” had become.
For a few weeks afterwards, I was diligent in my communication.
Every time a “just” slipped in there, I removed it. There were a few instances where I was uncomfortable with how staunch or severe my sentence looked without the padding of a “just” in there. Looking back, that feeling was what told me I was on the right track.
I’m now closing in on around six months “just” free. I’ve noticed that everything I write, from emails to blog posts to things in-between, have a firmer voice of authority. I like it that way.
Obviously I’m not here to police the things you say, or the words you choose to say them with. This is something that, after thinking about it, I realized I wanted to change for myself.
I also need to stop apologizing so much, but as a Canadian, I don’t think it’s realistic. Sorry bout it.