‘Just Not Sorry’: App Aims To Take Back Power-Stealing Words From Women’s Emails

Excuse me. Sorry to take up your precious time – and just tell me if you’ve already heard about this – but I think you might like to know about a new app that’s been created to stop women using undermining language in their work emails…

If your daily office communication sounds anything like the above; have courage, because there’s a new Chrome browser extension that aims to take back power-stealing words and make you more effective at your job.

A new plug-in for Gmail called Just Not Sorry, created by Tami Reiss and her team at Cyrus innovation, has launched in an attempt to revolutionize women’s authority in the workplace.

After downloading from the Chrome app store, users will see the so-called limiting words in their emails underlined in red, as if they’ve been spelled incorrectly. Next to these are explanatory quotes which enlighten women on how better to phrase things so not to appear as though they are apologizing or diminishing their impact.

Helpful blurbs from businesswomen, who are presumably immune to peppering their speech with the occasional unnecessary phrase, pop up to remind women why their emails suck and how they can alter them to become less of a wet blanket/captain of industry.

For example, the word ‘actually’ is highlighted, and Tania Sophia Mohr goes on to explain how the word “communicates a sense of surprise that you have something to say. Of course you have questions. There’s nothing surprising about it.”

Ms. Mohr clearly has no time to mince her words, let alone litter them with useless fillers like ‘sorry’ or ‘I was wondering if…’

Powerful, yes. A little mean? Well, maybe.

Of course this isn’t really what I think. Tania Mohr is undoubtedly excellent in her field and the number of niceties she uses are irrelevant to her success. But by stripping their words of any cushion and by being so unapologetic, women might be opening themselves up to a different kind of scrutiny.

As Jessica Valenti noted in her tweets about the app, the minute women stop being friendly in meetings, they’re called rude bitches.

Perhaps women (and indeed men) intentionally choose to include words like ‘just’ and ‘actually’ as a buffer so that we can get on with our colleagues on a day to day basis without making our co-workers bristle every time an email drops into their inbox.

I cannot argue with the basic necessity for an app like this, per se. In email conversation, when we have the time and space to edit, revise, and correct words, it’s a reasonable idea to have an app that reminds us that perhaps we didn’t need five sorries, two I thinks, and four does that makes senses in the one we are about to ping over to our line manager.

But perhaps if it wasn’t marketed so heavily towards women, and if it didn’t labour the issue by making such pointed observations of all the ways that women are limiting themselves in the workplace, then it would be a smart investment of our time.

Can we really say that only women are guilty of these superfluous inclusions in their emails?

Creator Tami Reiss talks about making business a more level playing field. But by encouraging women to pledge to stop using certain words in their emails, she’s simply widening the gulf more and more.