“Just” Don’t

Last month we talked a little about communication skills. Thanks to the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we were all reminded of his beautiful words and his charismatic way of speaking. Continuing on the same topic, there are other small ways that will make your words more meaningful, powerful, and effective. Sometimes that includes breaking bad habits.

One of those habits is the “just”. Saying “just” too much, especially when making a bold statement, a counter-point, or a request. Here are some examples:

  • “Just following up on our conversation…”
  • “Just wondering if you’ve decided…”
  • “I just have a question.”
  • “I’m just saying…”
  • “Can I just have a minute with you?”

Some of us make statements like this often. Women, more so than men. So, what’s the harm? Why should we stop saying “just” so much? First, let’s imagine someone was using “just” about a person. “That’s just Mary.” Would you ever say that about someone? It’s a little rude, right?

Using the word “just” makes what you’re saying or asking for seem like it’s unimportant, or asking for permission. It can weaken what you’re saying. Your statements and questions are not unimportant. Think about how confident it will sound when you drop the “just”:

  • “I’m following up on our conversation.”
  • “Have you decided…”
  • “I have a question.”
  • “It’s important to say…”
  • “May I speak with you for a moment?”

Think about this for a week or so. Notice how often you use “just” with your friends, teachers, adult leaders, new people you meet, etc. Listen for it when others talk. Listen to people whose speaking style you admire. Do they say “just” very often? Lastly, remember you aren’t a “just”. Your thoughts and words are important. You need to be the first person who believes that.



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