Last week while scrolling through my Facebook feed the headline of an article caught my attention. It read, “Google and Apple Alum Says Using This One Word Can Damage Your Credibility”. I was intrigued as to what word could have such power, so I took the bait and clicked on the link.

What I was surprised to find is I have been guilty of using this word many times, particularly in emails. The author of the article, Ellen Petry Leanse, contends many women insert the word “just” when communicating a request or question at work.

“I just wanted to check in on …”

“Just wondering if you’d decided between …”

“If you can just give me an answer, then …”

“I’m just following up on …”

Petry Leanse defines “just” as a permission word.

She writes, “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.”

While Petry Leanse says both men and women can fall victim to this word, in her own career she has noticed many more women feel the need to soften the blow with the “J” word before making a request. She did her own research to prove her theory, but I also did a quick word search through my emails. I reviewed emails from both male and female colleagues, and my quick test lined up with her results. The word appeared more among us ladies, myself included.

So, starting today I’m joining Petry Leanse in her effort to take the “J Count” down. I won’t be hitting the send button before doing a quick scan for the “J” word, or any other unnecessary qualifier. And, I hope all of the other very talented and intelligent women I have the pleasure of working with, and working for, will join me in this challenge. It’s up to us to set an example for the up and coming females in the work place and there’s no need to apologize for doing our jobs well. We can all certainly continue to be polite while being confident and firm.

To read the full article referenced in this post click here