Ellen Petry Leanse, entrepreneur and former employee of Apple and Google, noticed a startlingly high frequency of the word “just” among her female coworkers in conversation and email. Sentences starting in “I was just wondering” or “I just wanted to” left the speaker submissive and apologetic before making a request. This gave more authority and control to the recipient.
As covered in her post on LinkedIn, Leanse and her coworkers omitted “just” from their speech as an experiment, and this is what she concluded:
I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message… 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.
You can make an impact on those around you by being more confident and professional in your speech. As English majors, I think we appreciate the power even simple words can have. Now that you’re aware of how often you use the word “just,” it’s time to make plans to change.
Guest Article by Lacey Jolley