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The One Word Women Should Stop Saying About Themselves

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If I could choose the one word women should stop saying about themselves, I know exactly what I’d pick.

It’s a word that minimizes contribution.

Downplays achievement.

Shows a lack of confidence.

It’s often a knee-jerk reaction to a compliment.

In fact, I’d be willing to wager that most women don’t even know they’re saying it, simply because it’s something they’ve always said.

What is that word?

Just.

I mean using it as an adjective. As in, “You liked my presentation? It’s just a small thing I’ve been working on.”

Or, “I’m just starting out, so bear with me.”

Think about it for a minute. When was the last time you used that word?

I was “just” a Blogger.

When I went to my first blog conference, I was so nervous. What was I doing there? I kept asking myself. My lack of confidence came through each and every time I met someone new. “What’s your blog?” someone would ask. “Oh,” I’d stammer, “It’s called Frugal Portland, and it’s just a little blog and it’s just a hobby.”

Not a strong intro. Not by a long shot.

Then, about six months later, I was at a wedding, sitting down to eat dinner with strangers. We were making small talk, which invariably includes what-do-you-do-for-a-living back and forth. That’s when I heard it. Something so strong that I’m certain I visibly reacted. A woman, when asked, said, “I’m a writer.”

Full stop. She’s a writer. Not just a blogger. Not just a freelancer. But a writer.

It blew me away.

Her words, spoken simply, were so powerful. Was she a famous author? I wondered. You never know who you get seated next to at weddings, right? I started putting her on a pedestal before I even knew. She must be better than me, I thought.

Now I know the truth. The word “just” takes power away, and eliminating that word gives power back.

It might sound like easy vocabulary, but we all know that words have power.

I followed up with the woman. She was writing internal HR documents for a company. She had her own business, helping companies get writing done.

Somehow, the lack of glamour in her position made her even more fascinating. We are what we say we are.

So I tried it out. The next time someone asked me what I did for a living, I told them I was in marketing, and that I was a blogger. It sounded strange because I’d always downplayed the side projects in polite conversation. But I know that side projects are what wake me up in the morning. They’re part of my passion. So what if the word blogger sounds funny? That’s what I am!

Try it Yourself.

Now that you’ve read this, you’ll notice how often the word “just” comes up. The first step is recognizing what you’re hearing when you or someone you know says it. It’s a four-letter-word (not that kind!) that encapsulates, “I’m not feeling very confident about the next word I’m about to say” succinctly.

It’s not only at work, either!

Compliment a cook, and she might say, “You liked it? It’s just something I whipped up.”

Tell a woman you like her outfit, and you’re likely to hear something like, “I just threw a few things together!”

Remember, though, you’re more than just.

We all are.

Image credit:  plexium_nerd

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