Wisdom//

This Chrome Email Plugin Wants You to Stop Saying ‘Sorry’ All the Time

Sorry, just not sorry.

Drimafilm/Getty Images
Drimafilm/Getty Images

By Monica Torres

Just how sorry are you in your emails? To get what we want, we may pad our emailed requests with softening qualifiers like “So sorry!” and “Just,” even when we are not sorry at all. One Gmail plugin wants us to cut this behavior out and stop apologizing for everything we do at work.

Created by Tami Reiss, Steve Brudz, Manish Kakwani, and Eric Tillberg of software consultancy group Def Method, the Just Not Sorry plugin seeks to “stop qualifying our message and diminishing our voice” by pointing out our use of “sorry” in emails, so that we edit ourselves from using them.

Qualifiers like ‘just’ can weaken your point

Once you download the Chrome extension, the plugin underlines anytime you write a problematic qualifier like “just,” “sorry,” “I think,” or “I’m no expert” in red, the same way a word would get underlined as an error if you misspelled it in spellcheck.

If you hover over the offending qualifier, a popup will appear with warnings like “Using ‘sorry’ frequently undermines your gravitas and makes you appear unfit for leadership” or ” ‘Just’ demeans what you have to say.”

Using qualifiers can make you appear weak, Reiss argues.

“When someone uses one of these qualifiers, it minimizes others’ confidence in their ideas,” she wrote in a Medium post. “Qualifiers hint to the reader that you don’t have faith in what you’re saying. The last thing you need is to seem unsure of yourself.”

Just Not Sorry is aimed at women in particular. In her Medium post, Reiss frames the plugin as a service to embolden entrepreneurial women. One study found that women have a lower threshold than men for what kind of offense requires an apology, which may explain why women are perceived to be frequent apologizers.

If you’re prone to peppering your speech with compulsive sorries, then a tool like Just Not Sorry can make you more aware of how you speak. But not everyone is convinced about the plugin’s service as a social good. In response to Just Not Sorry, linguist Debbie Cameron wants us to understand that language is contextual, and not every “just” should be seen as demeaning.

“Words like ‘just’ have a range of functions: you can’t just [sic] assert that they are ‘demeaning’ in every context. (As I also pointed out, Nike didn’t choose ‘Just Do It’ as a slogan because they thought it sounded pleasingly weak and powerless),” she wrote in a blog post critiquing the plugin. “Even when ‘just’ is being used as a hedge (i.e., to make a pointless forceful or more tentative), the commonest reason for that is simply to be polite; and politeness is more strategic than demeaning.”

There is not just one way to word a work email, in other words. In defense of qualifiers like “sorry” and “like,” writer Ann Friedman noted that language is “often about building relationships,” adding that “to assume that our verbal tics are always negative is to assume that the goal of all speech is the same. Which of course is patently ridiculous.”

Sign up to receive daily news, inspiration, and advice on how to master work and life from Ladders.

Originally published at www.theladders.com

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.