Stop Saying 'Just' So People Will Take You Seriously

A former Google executive says it's time to ditch this "child word."

Ever felt like you're not being taken seriously at work? Well it might be the afternoon naps the boss has caught you taking under your desk. Or it may be the framed photo of your guinea pig on your desk.

But (hopefully) more likely, it's as simple as one little word you didn't even realize you were over-using.


Now we've said it, you're having flashbacks to all the times you unnecessarily used the word, aren't you?

"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…"

And yes, annoyingly, it is mostly just (damn it!) us ladies.

In an article for Business Insider, former Google and Apple executive Ellen Petry Leanse explains how she began to notice the seemingly inoffensive word sneak into more and more of our work conversations.

"I first sensed this shortly after leaving Google and joining a company with a high ratio of female to male employees.

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"I'd never really noted a high concentration of just before, so I thought it might be my imagination. But soon I knew my hunch was legit. 'Just' just kept showing up too frequently.

But what's so bad about using the word? Well, apparently it's a "child word," which makes the user seem timid and lacking in conviction.

Ellen adds: "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?'"

But is it just a way for us to be even more polite?

"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."

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What do you think, CGs? Are you guilty of using the word too often?


This article orginally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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