I recently read an article on LinkedIn about a study that was done around ONE word in the workplace, and the affects on how we as women are perceived at work. I was shocked to find out what this one word was, and just how true it was! (for me anyway!)
So what’s the word?
At first you might wonder when you ever use this word. However, the study found that more women than men used it, and in more circumstances, those that used this word were seen as apologetic and subordinate.
So in what circumstance might you use it? I realized I was using it all the time.
On an email to someone who hadn’t responded to me after several days:
“I just wanted to check in on the status of my request below…”
On an email to my boss:
“I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be working from home on Thursday…”
When I read these sentences now, I realize just how true the original article‘s author was. I never realized that my innocence of using this word was screaming “permission” and “subordination” instead of “authority” or “confidence”.
To the person that didn’t respond?
“I want to follow up on my request below…” I don’t need to specifically call them out (yet), but I don’t need to tiptoe around my request and make it sound like “I’m just checking in…if it’s convenient for you, can you respond?!!?”
To my boss:
“I’m working from home on Thursday…” Because you know what? We already discussed that Thursdays are work from home days. I’m not apologetic that I asked for them, and I’m doing you a favor by reminding you. I don’t need to double check, or make the situation feel as though I’m getting out of coming to the office by working twice as hard at home.
The whole point?
As working women, MOMS especially, we tend to feel a lot of guilt. Everywhere. About everything. Guilt that we’re spending so much time away from our kids. Not spending as much time as someone else at the office who doesn’t have kids. There’s guilt all over the place, and if we let ourselves communicate in a less-than-confident manner (whether we mean it that way or not), we start to feel that guilt even more. Let’s not feel guilty anymore for DOING OUR JOB and asking for an update when we haven’t received one, or asking a question because we don’t know the answer, or using a placeholder like “just” as a filler word to make something sound sweeter, better, or more understanding. There are better ways to convey these feelings without sounding apologetic or less effective, and we need to consider removing it from our vocabulary in the workplace.
I’ve discontinued ALL use of the J word in email communication, and I’m working on the verbal piece of it (because it applies there as well!!). Do you agree?! I’d love to hear your comments!