An article in Business Insider on the “J” word, written by Ellen Petry Leanse, a former executive with Google, blew my mind. It’s a prime example of how our female conditioning sneaks in and sabotages us in the tiniest, yet most insidious ways.
Within an hour of reading this article, I started an email to a client, and I typed that J word. Right there. By habit. Wow. BE AWARE, my fellow entrepreneurs – actually, everyone should be aware, whether in business or not. This “J” word is a big deal, and whenever you use it, you hurt your credibility and your authority – sometimes even the clarity of what you’re saying.
So what is it? It’s simple and it’s power-sucking: It’s the word “just.”
“Just” – as in these examples Ellen gave of how women often use the word “just” in business communications:
“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 she made this astute observation: “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.”
In her article, she describes an eye-opening real-world test she conducted on how women and men differ so widely in their use of “just.” Click here to read what happened.