"Just" implies an apology. Stop using the word
I challenge you to stop using the word “just” in email correspondence for February.
The word “just” implies an apology. It suggests that you are terribly sorry for interrupting the important person on the other end of your email and, in doing so, indicates that you believe you are less than that person.
I am just following up on my emails of 7 January and 21 January”……...
anticipates that Sally will be annoyed at you doing your job and following her up on the email correspondence she hasn’t answered. There are likely several reasons Sally hasn’t responded to your email and being mad at you for doing your job and sending an email is not one of them.
A better option would be,
Have you had a chance to consider my emails of 7 January and 21 January”……...
I get it, I really do. I am a reformed “just-er”.
A couple of years back I realised that I was doing “just” that! Putting the word “just” in my correspondence far too frequently, as if it was a magical word that would absolve me for harassing the email recipient and suddenly they wouldn’t think, “oh, there is that annoying lawyer following me up AGAIN. Seriously, I will respond to her when my client gets back to me”.
In 2015 Ellen Peatry Leanse (of Google and Apple fame) made headlines by insisting women stop using the word “just” in conversations at work, claiming the word was “childish”.
I don’t necessarily think the word is childish, but I do think that adding the word “just” in emails gives the appearance that you are submissive and fearful and more importantly, detracts from putting forward a professional and confident front. It’s time for a reality check. Why should you apologise for doing your job? The word “just” implies that you are.
My general rule of thumb is to be direct, concise and polite. More than anything else this implies confidence, something we all want to project.
Tell me, do you use the word “just” in correspondence?