Just don’t say “Just”

It’s common to hear that women need to adjust the language they use to improve their authority in the workplace. One of those words that women should stop saying is “just”. The theory is that the use of this word is “a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous.” Business Insider.

To test out the theory I made a conscious effort to rewrite sentences where I used the word “just”. While I’m not sure the impact my new style of writing has on my readers I feel more confident about the emails I send.

Sometimes I think my emails are too harsh but in the end, I think they have more clarity and direction than without the “J” word.

I looked back at the past 100 emails I sent to see how many times I wrote the word, “just”. Out of those 100 emails, the word “just” was used 25 times.

For comparison, I did a search on the last 100 emails received from one of my male co-workers. He wrote the word “just” 23 times. Perhaps this article has more to do with the word itself than which gender uses it.

Some of the examples of the word “just” I found myself saying quite often were

  • “I just wanted to check in on …”
  • “Just wondering if you’d decided between …”

How many of these sentences convey the same meaning simply by removing the word “just”?

  • “I just sent out the invitation for Friday…” can be re-written as “I sent out the invitation for Friday a few moments ago.”

or

  • “I just wanted to double check you got the correct rate” can be re-written as “I wanted to double check that you got the right rate.”

By removing the word “just” from my professional vocabulary I find myself more confident in the emails I send and the way I communicate.

Have you tried removing the word “just” from your vocabulary? Have you discovered anything by it?

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