A new application for Google Chrome is changing email in the workplace. Not only can “Just Not Sorry” save time, it makes users appear more authoritative and direct to those on the receiving end of emails. The app was created by Cyrus Innovation under the leadership of CEO Tami Riess. She was inspired to create the extension after attending conferences and meetings where this communication issue was discussed, and more specifically the topic of how women communicate in the workplace. She came up with a way to alter the language that has also been shown to translate beyond written communication and into verbal interactions. Riess set a goal to get 30,000 people to pledge to use this technology and make it a New Year’s resolution to change their impact in communication. The app is geared towards women because of a noted gap in societal expectations and the ways ideas are portrayed across genders, but it certainly seems like it could be useful for anyone.
How does it work?
“Just Not Sorry” underlines each qualifying or discrediting word or phrase, like “sorry,” “actually,” “just,” or “Does that make sense?” as if it is a spelling mistake. Although everything is spelled correctly, when the user hovers over the word he or she will see a brief explanation to help change the language. This prevents users from portraying themselves with less authority and sometimes inadvertently discrediting their own pitches when most business communications are about building the reader’s confidence in the writer’s skills and abilities. “Sometimes the environment needs to change in order to enable better behavior,” Reiss says. Making these small changes can have a big impact. Many people do not even realize they are using these qualifiers or how it can negatively affect their messages.
Riess gives some great examples of the content explaining softening words and links to additional resources from her article on Medium: “We used content from Tara Sophia Mohr who calls these words “Shrinkers”; Lydia Dishman who explains how these phrases are useless; Syliva Ann Hewlett who emphasizes that women need to stop apologizing; and Ian Tang who shows us how “thank you” is more effective than sorry. We found in our beta tests that not only does this reduce the use of these terms in email, but it builds mindfulness to avoid them in all written and verbal communication.”
Of course everyone should express themselves as they so choose, but women have more of a tendency to undermine their own ideas and in turn seem quieter in the workplace. One article on the topic explains that the reason why women have adopted these kinds of speech and writing patterns is because, historically, women are told not to appear too decisive and demanding or in other words, just as decisive and demanding as men. Riess is quick to point out that the extension is not intended to make fun of the way women speak, and she also explains that the app is intended to help all people become more confident in their ideas and in turn become more professionally productive.
This new extension joins a long list of applications that can be used to customize gmail and google chrome capabilities. (see our previous article on this) With many ways to customize communications this is a fairly simple and minimally invasive way to coach more positive language into daily use. The topic of soft language and qualifiers has been hotly debated in recent news, but finally “Just not Sorry” provides a simple solution. The new app has already gained 27,000+ downloads and has been mentioned in countless news outlets and articles. Join the movement, check out the included links and resources, and empower your language.
Before you go, check out this illustrated explanation of why it is better to say “Thank You” instead of “Sorry” by: Yao Xiao