Can we just eliminate “just?”

Cindy JobsHealth and Well-Being

I recently started listening for the number of times the word “just” comes up in conversation. Generally, it’s nothing big, but more little things where the word “just” either demeans, diminishes, or disqualifies whatever follows. For example:

“I’ve just been a mom and housewife, who would want to hire me?”

“I’m just five minutes late. Why are you so upset?”

“You just need to try harder.”

Let’s look at these individually:

“For the last 18 years, I’ve just been a mom. Who would want to hire me?”

Really!? Is there a harder job or one that requires more excellent time management skills, patience, and ball-juggling than that of being a mom? Nope. 

I’ve had clients that are re-entering the workforce that have asked me that very question, thinking that the during the last 18 years, they have entirely lost their former skills or have little to offer in the current workforce. I highly disagree. As a former manager of people, I appreciated the “mom” skills that these individuals contributed to an age-diverse team.

Using “just” in this manner demeans the incredible skills and contributions the “mom” job utilizes.

 “I’m just five minutes late. Why are you so upset?”

I’m a stickler for punctuality. Barring any massive unforeseen circumstances, I’m more frequently five minutes early for appointments than on time. So, when someone regularly arrives late for appointments, I’m upset before they even sit down. I know that’s my emotion to manage, but someone else’s pervasive lateness sends the message to me that my time is not as valuable as theirs. 

Using the word “just” in this situation is an attempt to diminish not only their lateness but somehow qualify that five minutes isn’t even late at all. Not.

“You just need to try harder.”

This comment is probably the one that upsets me up more than anything else. As an ADHD coach, my clients come to me with years of hearing the “just try harder” song from those around them. Trust me; you probably will not find a group of people that have been trying any harder to get it right. Unfortunately, their executive function gets in the way.

Using the word “just” in this manner disqualifies the enormous effort they have already made and continue to make every single day. 

I encourage you to listen for your use of “just.” What are you demeaning, diminishing, or disqualifying by your use of “just?”


Cindy Jobs

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