Lydia Dishman introduces us to “Just Not Sorry”, a Chrome extension that warns you when your emails contain wish-washy language.

by | Jan 14, 2016 | Communication, Company Culture, Fierce Excerpts

*Image from Huffington Post.

Now Reading | New Gmail Plug-in Highlights Words and Phrases that Undermine Your Message by Lydia Dishman.

If you have ever visited our Fierce blog before, you know how passionate we are about women in particular using language that undermines their industry expertise. Expressions like “I’m sorry” and “does that make sense?” etc. are prevalent. Even the most extraordinary women are victims and perpetrators of it in spite of our collective best intentions to communicate clearly, confidently, and assertively. When I came across this article today I was delighted to learn that it was written by a writer I had worked with 15 years ago to write for my clients at my first ad agency (TPA) in Greenville, SC. So excited for her amazing success. She introduces us to a Chrome extension called Just Not Sorry, a free plug-in that taps into Gmail and warns you when you are using words and phrases that undermine your message. I love it already just from reading this article.

Here’s what she writes:

The app was created by Tami Reiss, CEO of Cyrus Innovation, a software development agency. Reiss put a call to arms out on Medium late last month, hoping to get at least 10,000 people (women in particular) to pledge to stop diminishing their voices in the coming year. As of 4:00 p.m. ET on December 31, Just Not Sorry was up to 30,000 downloads, she tells Fast Company.

Part of what prompted this initiative was Reiss’s work as a CEO. Although Cyrus works with companies of all sizes, Reiss’s work with female founders of startups trying to turn a vision into a reality made one thing very clear.

“So many of them have great ideas but don’t communicate the confidence in them that will inspire investors,” she says, “Given that raising money is often that hardest part of building a startup, it’s incredibly important to be an effective communicator.”

Though Reiss admits the list of words and phrases the Gmail plug-in uses were not derived from a psychologist or organizational behaviorist, she did mine conversations with other women as well as articles from Tara Sophia Mohr, who points out these words are “shrinkers” and contribute to ways that we sabotage ourselves. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder of the Manhattan-based think tank Center for Talent Innovation, says using “sorry” makes a woman appear unfit for leadership. Cartoonist Yao Xiaosuggests that sorry could be replaced with “thank you.” Reiss even drew inspiration from Fast Company’s post on useless phrases that should be eliminated from emails.

The word “sorry,” for example, has crept into women’s speech and now makes appearances any time there’s a need to interject or to ask for help. It’s so pervasive—and destructive— that the American Association of University Women (AAUW) even partnered with Pantene to do a video campaign aimed to point out and discourage women from perpetuating the habit of apologizing unnecessarily.

Reading Lydia’s article just makes me happy and I can’t wait to try this out on my own communication.

Behavioral scientists suggest there are plenty of reasons people fail to make good on their promises to be better, but there are factors that can push you toward perseverance. One of these is feedback. And Just Not Sorry offers that. Give it a try and see how it works and let me know.

You can read the entire article here.