It’s time to stop saying “just”

Let’s be honest: most of us don’t like confrontation.

The types of conversations that require us to confront, badger or negotiate are often the conversations that we put at the bottom of the to-do list.

They’re uncomfortable and hard and awkward and we don’t like them. So it’s totally understandable that we therefore want to avoid them!


However, this week, I’ve picked up an invaluable little tip that can help you regain just a little bit of power in these types of uncomfortable situations.

And it all boils down to one word: just.

Think about it: how many emails or conversations do you begin with the word ‘just’ towards the beginning?

“I just wanted to give some feedback on…”

“I’m just following up on the email I sent you…”

“I just wanted to check about…”

Or the double:

Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to see if you’ve had a chance to look at XYZ…”

This type of language puts us on the back foot immediately and gives the other party the ‘upper hand’ in the conversation.

That’s why we need to remove the words ‘just’ (and the equally submissive ‘sorry’) from our day-to-day vocabulary, suggests psychologist Alison Hill.

“Socially, women are held in high regard by others if they’re pleasant, kind to others and caring – all of these are attributes of being ‘nice’,” Alison says.

But being too nice can come across as being a doormat, she adds.

“Many people start a sentence apologising – even though they’ve done nothing wrong – and then use phrases such as, ‘I just need two minutes’ or, ‘I just have a question’. Both of these have a sense of submissiveness – remove these words and automatically your message will be more direct.”

The take-home message? Whether you’re talking to a mate, a work colleague or your boss, delete ‘just’ from your correspondence – and see how much more success you have in getting the result you want.