How a Browser Add-On Aims to Help Women in the Workplace Stop Selling Themselves Short

by Rafi Schwartz

December 30, 2015
Image via (cc) Flickr user Poldavo

We all use tempering words and phrases like “I think” and “I’m no expert,” to some degree (see, I did it right there). They seem harmless, but ultimately serve to dilute our ability to project confidence and communicate with authority. Now a new browser extension is helping us clean up our language, one wishy-washy word at a time. 

Just Not Sorry is a Gmail plug-in for Chrome browsers that highlights instances of tempering words, helping point out all the times within an email that a person is undercutting their communicative abilities. With the extension installed, tempering words and phrases appear underlined—simliar to spell-check highlights. Mouse over them, and a small pop-up appears to explain how the language in question diminishes the writer’s voice.

Image via Just Not Sorry / Chrome Web Store

A useful tool for anyone who finds themselves using these linguistic crutches, Just Not Sorry was made specifically with women in the workplace in mind. Created by Tami Reiss, CEO of the consulting firm Cyrus Innovation, Just Not Sorry came out of conversations between Reiss and other women about the language they find themselves using in their workplace communications.

“The women in these rooms were all softening their speech in situations that called for directness and leadership,” she wrote in a Medium post on the plug-in’s origins. “We had all inadvertently fallen prey to a cultural communication pattern that undermined our ideas. As entrepreneurial women, we run businesses and lead teams — why aren’t we writing with the confidence of their positions? There was the desire to change, but there wasn’t a tool to help.”

Not only did Reiss create the plug-in, but she’s now using it as a starting point for a larger movement, hoping to have “#10000women (and men) resolve to send more effective emails in 2016 by leaving out undermining phrases like ‘just’ and ‘sorry.’” As she told Slate, “One of the biggest things we advocate for is kaizen, which is a Japanese process of small incremental change that leads to bigger impact.”

Already the plug-in has been downloaded by thousands of users, and is starting to rack up rave reviews on Google’s Chrome Web Store. “This app prevented me from needlessly writing I am sorry in 6 emails today alone,” writes one woman. “LOVE IT. Thank you. #sorrynotsorry” On Twitter, users have turned to the #10000women hashtag to voice their support for the extension. 

[via slate]

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How a Browser Add-On Aims to Help Women in the Workplace Stop Selling Themselves Short