Sign up FAST! Login

Remove the word JUST from your communications. Former Google and Apple exec Ellen Petry Leanse says it damages your credibility.

Stashed in: #lifehacks, Women, Confidence, Presentations, Communication, Awesome, XX, Communication

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

JUST makes a person seem less confident.

I was hearing "just" three to four times more frequently from women than from men.

It hit me that there was something about the word I didn't like. It was a "permission" word, in a way — a warm-up to a request, an apology for interrupting, a shy knock on a door before asking "Can I get something I need from you?"

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a "child" word, to riff Transactional Analysis. As such it put the conversation partner into the "parent" position, granting them more authority and control. And that "just" didn't make sense.

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.

And as I began to pay attention, I was astonished — believe me — at how often I used the word.

I sent a memo to my work teammates about the "J" word and suggested a moratorium on using it. We talked about what it seemed to imply (everyone agreed) and how different that message was from the way we saw ourselves: trusted advisors, true partners, win-win champions of customer success.

We started noticing when and how we used "just" and outing each other when we slipped. Over time, frequency diminished. And as it did we felt a change in our communication — even our confidence. We didn't dilute our messages with a word that weakened them.

It was subtle, but small changes can spark big differences. I believe it helped strengthen our conviction, better reflecting the decisiveness, preparedness, and impact that reflected our brand.

Just stop using it--I'm just saying....

More the latter case than the former one. Aww heck they're both bad.

Just in case you were wondering. 

Agreed. Also, things like "if you could," "It'd be great if..." the conditional does a number on a girl. I remember walking into a meeting and saying, "That won't work, you need to..." Makes all the difference in the world. Still, it's a practice listening to myself speak. 

On getting rid of things...adverbs can go, too:) 

Some adverbs can go slowly. Because some adverbs are occasionally additive. 

You're right that JUST and IF are bad words for projecting confidence. 

It's good to listen to yourself speak.

You May Also Like: