just-sayingThere’s been a lot written lately about words women use that undermine their power and impact. Business Insider makes an impassioned plea for the elimination of the word “Just.” Goop has a great list of verbal/written faux pas including “But,” and “Actually.” Both links (especially the Goop article) share a bit about the philosophy behind banning these words, and why using them is especially bad for women.

One note that particularly resonated with me is that women apparently use these words to create warmth (guilty as charged). Examples include, “Sorry to bug you but I really need an answer” or “No worries!” after someone asks me to reschedule last minute instead of “You’re welcome.” Words have power: and using apology to create warmth is a recipe for degrading your worth.

“Unfortunately” is something I’ve used in the past when I’ve had to turn clients down. “We’d love to work with you, but unfortunately we are fully booked right now.” That sentence has a but, and an unfortunately (oh boy). The problem with this kind of writing is that it is disingenuous. A better approach would be, “We are excited to work with you. We are booked at this time, and will notify you as soon as we have an opening.” Although I’m all for concise writing, in a case like this one, two sentences are far better than one.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, let’s make a pact in 2016 to focus on the facts, instead of offering explanations, apologies or other qualifiers. My personal goal while writing is to be authentic, concise, and kind. There’s no “just” “however” or “but” needed in that equation.

Here are the words I’m personally banning this year:

No worries
Actually, Literally
I believe, I think (If you’re writing it, you believe it)
Amazing, Awesome, Great (I’m convinced I can come up with more precise adjectives)
So, Very (Again, a cheap substitute for more precise adjectives)

What words will you be banning this year?

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