BUSINESS/FINANCE, GENDER POLITICS

Why you should cut “just” out of your emails

pomegranite logo jpeg.JPGBy Liz Fletcher of Pomegranite

Have you noticed how often you use the word “just” in a professional context, particularly emails? I’ve been thinking about why I use it so much in tricky situations and if it’s something that women use more than men.

I often find myself using it when I feel like I’m being annoying to a client (while I’m trying to do my job), for example, “I just wanted to check in with you about…” or “I’m just following up on…”. It makes the sentence feel like a smaller inconvenience, like what I’m really saying is “I’m sliding this tiny little thing it into your stack of to-dos but it’s not a big deal” while batting my eyelashes.

Using “just” helps to make me feel like I’m less of a nuisance. But I’m doing my job, so why should I want to feel like this? While it might seem like “just” smooths the path for requests, it also makes us appear small; it diminishes respect for our work and ourselves. Why shouldn’t we take up as much space in someone’s to-do list as anything else?

Compare the same phrases without “just”: “I’d like to check in with you about…” and “I’m following up on…”. Do you hear how much more clear and direct the requests are? It’s as if you’ve sat up straight while asking. That’s what a professional relationship should be.

Ellen Leanse, a former Google executive wrote a 2015 LinkedIn blog about the word “just”, when she noticed women (including herself) using it way more than men, and how she tackled it in her office. She 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.”

Try this experiment, which we also did in our team. Search or read through your emails for the next couple of days and count the number of times “just” appears. Notice why you used it and how it changes the tone when you remove it. We were astounded by how often we use it and have committed to clarity and confidence by removing it.

IMG_8110Liz Fletcher is the co-owner of Pomegranite, a boutique online presence consultancy which she set up with her business partner Sarah Gurney, in 2013. The pair met studying English literature together at Rhodes University and grew the business through developing thoughtful storytelling on digital platforms.

The Pomegranite offices in Cape Town and Joburg service clients which are predominantly in the SME, NGO and education sectors.

Liz gets a kick out of bringing the magic out in her team and developing systems and plans that help the business run smoothly.

Uncategorized

Weekly Feminist Round Up – 30 April

Listen

Stay Woke With Sibs – The Gender Pay Gap here

The Conversation via the BBC here

Opportunities

Spider Road Press seeks flash fiction featuring a complex, female-identifying protagonist by writers of all genders for its annual contest here

Nominate your favourite feminist for the Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans here

Read

Is it possible to be Muslim and a feminist? Zakiyah Ebrahim explores here

Motherhood be damned here

Anja Venter explores feminist dating here

Adichie’s Remark Stirs a Debate on the Definition of Equality and Feminism here

Iconic South African women who fought for your freedom here

Event

Feminism Is launch at the Centre for Law and Society at UCT on 3 May – details here

LAW

Triangle Project needs your help in fixing the Civil Union Act

Triangle Image

On 28 April, the window for comments on the Civil Union Amendment Act closes. The amendment act, put forward by COPE’s Deirdre Carter, aims to remove a provision allowing government marriage officers to discriminate against same-sex couples. More info on the bill can be found here.

So far, very few positive submission have been received. It is essential that we support this amendment and fix this broken piece of legislation once and for all.

We need YOU to make a submission.

Here’s a helpful template to write your own, and Triangle’s submission to guide you.

Together, we can make our voices heard!

Thank you,

Triangle Project