Apparently, some people—women especially—tend to use soft, passive words and phrases that can make them come off as weak or ineffective. One such word is “just.” How many times have you emailed someone and said, “I just wanted to follow up on this,” or “I’m just checking in”? “Just” seems like such a minor word, but it can undermine the power of our statements. “I wanted to follow up on this” or “I’m checking in” sound so much more active and firm, don’t they?
Another no-no is expressing your opinion but adding a phrase like “if that makes sense”—which implies that it might not—or “maybe this wouldn’t work, but…”—implying that there’s something wrong with the idea. These kinds of statements show that you aren’t confident about your ideas and give people an opening to immediately reject them. Instead, say, “I think XYZ” and stand by it.
Go back over some of your old emails and see if they feature any of these undermining phrases. It’s time to revamp your vocabulary!