When it comes to sending emails to employers, teachers or general higher-ups, it’s easy to come across as apologetic. Everything in the email–the tone, the voice, the way the person comes across–all comes down to word choice
Is there a way to avoid sounding so sorry and unprofessional? There is now, thanks to Just Not Sorry, a Gmail plug-in designed to eliminate “words which undermine your message”. Such words include “just” and “sorry”, hence the name of the plug-in.
How the plug-in functions is simple. Once it’s installed, Just Not Sorry underlines words in a Gmail-specific message that misrepresent the person’s ideas. Users are even given an explanation as to why the phrase or word is unnecessary when they hover over it.
There’s a bit of controversy regarding the plug-in, however. In a Guardian opinion piece by Barbara Ellen, she wrote, “[Just Not Sorry] errs on the patronising – ‘This can help you with that pathetic girly thing you do that renders you a disgrace to modern feminism’…”
Those who feel the app is “patronising” stereotypical female qualities, like having the tendency to over-apologize, might be taking it too seriously.The add-on is simply designed to make professional emails more professional by drawing attention to unnecessary words and phrases.
Additionally, Just Not Sorry does not change a person’s email voice to such an extreme extent to where they lose all softness and “femininity”. It aims to add a certain confidence to important emails. Part of the reason it doesn’t change a person’s voice is because it can’t; Just Not Sorry is extremely limited in what it advises users to change. Upon testing it, Just Not Sorry only detected a few “sorry” phrases. The plug-in failed to pick up on things like “I may not be the best for the job”, which can undermine a person’s strengths. That might explain why it has a 3.5 star rating as opposed to a 5.
Because it is so limited, Just Not Sorry does not discourage the use of words like “sorry” if users don’t change or omit it. This is ultimately a bonus, as apologizing for something apology-worthy is important. Hopefully users understand that before installing Just Not Sorry. However, apologizing for simpler things, like bothering the employer with the email, is not necessary and it may be time to revise those.