Show Notes | October 1, 2020 | Episode 78
There is a bad four-letter word plaguing your workplace emails and chats that you didn’t even realize was bad. And he has a five-letter friend he likes to hang out with.
Last week, we talked about words you are using in work emails and chats that are sabotaging your career like the overuse of, “I’m sorry,” and how cutting it out of your vocabulary can put you on more equal footing with your colleagues.
In the second half of this two-part series, we’re going over a few more words, starting with the ugly four-letter word, “just.”
It usually shows up in phrases like, “I just wanted to follow up on …” or “I just wanted to send you a friendly reminder.”
Using words like “just” are a way to tiptoe into chats and emails you subconsciously feel should be softened.
The problem with softening is that you might have a great idea or leadership skill that is too subdued. You can’t truly be taken seriously if you are constantly undermining yourself with saboteur language.
Getting more visibility starts with effective communication and eliminating, “I just …” will help you get there.
Using soft language can be otherwise said as using fear language. Fear that you may have gone too far or that you might step on someone’s toes, but the good news is, that is 100% in your head.
You want to project the presence of a capable and qualified team member.
Here are some ways to break the habit of softening your sentences with “just”:
1. First, allow yourself to write exactly what you are thinking whether it has “just” in it or not. Just get it down.
Example: “I just wanted to reach out to give you a heads up that I’m off work tomorrow.”
2. Then, go back and rewrite the sentence in a way that takes out the fear language.
Example: “I’m reaching out to remind you I’m off work tomorrow. Hope you have a great day.”
The tone, or underlying message, implies that your coworker may have forgotten you’re not going to be available.
The new sentence makes no assumptions that you may have forgotten or not. It’s showing you’re doing your due diligence as a team member to remind your coworker and extending good will for the next day.
Using “just” can make your sentence sound like a rushed afterthought. Cutting it out makes the message more intentional.
Now, for the five-letter friend who likes to hang out with “just.” We’re talking about “think.”
It most often appears as, “I just think …” which for all the previously discussed reasons, you already know is a phrase you want to avoid.
So, instead we’re going to talk about the connotation of “think” and how you can make a selection that will sound more professional.
At work you are going to be asked about your opinions, plans and ideas a lot. Much of that will be over Zoom meetings, email and chat.
Here’s why you should avoid the word “think” when delivering those thoughts — “think” means you have not quite decided.
When your boss asks, “Which one?” and you say, “I think the second one,” you’re leaving a level of uncertainty in the decision, and managers want team members who put weight and muscle behind their recommendations.
An even worse answer would be, “I think the second choice, but that’s just my opinion.” That’s when you see those two nasty words – “think” and “just” – come together, resulting in a huge self-inflicted blow to your own credibility.
Even though you gave an answer, the way you said it is as if you said nothing at all.
If you find yourself using both of those words in the same sentence, don’t let it escape your keyboard or your mouth.
A more solid response would be, “I would select the second option because it’s the most aligned with our spring goals.” This sentence speaks volumes about your understanding of the company.
When you use soft language, or fear language, you are taming what your mind is thinking. Instead, speak with authority and knowledge.
No, your colleagues are not always going to agree with you. And no, you’re not always going to be right. But that’s OK. At the least, you will make an impression as a team member who can give an honest and constructive point of view.
If you’re earning an income, your manager expects you to bring critical-thinking skills to the table. It is such a let down when the drive, ideas and minds of your employees are blank.
Rise to the occasion, walk in ownership and set a personal standard. You should seek to communicate with excellence and authority. Eliminating “think” and “just” from your work vocabulary will pave the way for your success.
Links and Resources
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