Leadership Nudge® 375 – Stop saying “I’m just . . .” admin February 16, 2022

Leadership Nudge® 375 – Stop saying “I’m just . . .”

When we use self-deprecating language, we negate the words that follow. Stop saying things like “I’m just . . . a receptionist . . .” or “I’ve been here just two years . . .” Instead, remove the word “just” and say what you think and what you see. Your voice matters!

Hey, here’s a word I want you to eliminate from your vocabulary. Just. As in, I’m “just” a mechanic. I’m “just” a receptionist. I’m “just” a coder. I’ve only been here for “just” two years. It’s not helpful. It’s self- deprecating. And what you have to say matters, what you see matters.  

And when you say “I’m just,” you’re negating what you’re about to say. Typically, this comes from people junior in the organization [and they say it] to people more senior in the organization that they feel sort of out of place weighing in on an issue. But they often are the ones who are closer to the work. They’re the ones who actually know what’s going on. YOU’RE the one that actually knows what’s going on. That executive has no idea what’s actually going on with the work.  

And here’s what’s even worse – when there’s a pattern of it in the organization. Because that indicates a steep Share of Voice – an unequal Share of Voice. People high in the organization say a lot of words, people low in the organization don’t get to say very many words in meetings. This is a fragile pattern for decision making, because the group is deprived of what everybody knows, what everybody sees. And we’re over reliant on just what a few quote “experts” or highly experienced people think. And this is how organizations make bad decisions.  

So you’re not helping yourself. You’re not helping the organization. So get rid of the word. I’m “just” whatever. I don’t know. I’m just a kid from public high school in Massachusetts. I’m David Marquet and that’s your Leadership Nudge. Hope y’all have a great week.  

Don’t “JUST” yourself.