“This is the behind the scenes story of the how the team at Cyrus Innovation came to build Just Not Sorry, a plug in for Gmail that highlights you when you type “just” “sorry” and a few other undermining words. . ..”
An Evaluation of Just Not Sorry
As I posted this morning, I was excited to learn of a new Chrome extension for Gmail called Just Not Sorry, which is a free app that is designed to help women communicate more effectively by underlining and advising us on words that we use which make our messages less powerful (Sorry, I think, Just, Does that make sense, etc.) Above is the link to the app’s backstory, and now I’ll show an example of how a message you’re typing might look in Gmail with the app installed and then give you my thoughts.
Easy to install: Just Not Sorry was easy to install and uses minimal space, so you’re not talking about a complicated plug-in here.
Nice visual reminder of the amount of “weakening” language that you’re using: The red underlining is perfect – it gives you a visual representation of the amount of undermining language that you’re using and where. I could easily see someone making this more complicated and giving a score or highlighting in five colors or whatnot, but this performs the important service of pointing out where we may be taking away from our own messaging strength in a simple and clear way.
Comprehensive: Just Not Sorry doesn’t only point out “just” and “sorry” – there are a few random phrases that it pointed out to me. Again, I just used it on today’s emails so this may be as deep as it gets, but for now it looks like the creators really tried to think of all the different ways in which we undermine ourselves in communication and include those – not just make a gimmicky app.
Unobtrusive: If you don’t want to read the Just Not Sorry comments, don’t hover your mouse over them. You aren’t forced to acknowledge each one, so you can ignore it if the situation applies or pay extra attention to what’s underlined if that’s what’s called for. And if you do nothing, your message is just sent exactly as you wrote it, same as if you didn’t have the app.
Tips can be repetitive: I’ve only had the Just Not Sorry app installed for a day and already don’t want to hover over “I think” and see the same quote again. This app would have more staying power if new quotes or explanations were added and rotated, so that users wouldn’t start skipping over the meaning of the red underline so quickly.
Some quotes a little harsh: When you hover your cursor over a highlighted “sorry” you get a Sylvia Ann Hewlett quote including how sorry makes you sound “unfit for leadership.” Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an authority in the field of women’s leadership and executive presence and the books I’ve read of hers have been quite enlightening in terms of understanding how we as women can come across in business. So a roomful of HBS grads probably gets the background behind the quote and isn’t bothered by it. But is the purpose of the app to serve senior women leaders in business or to help all women, regardless of whether we’re stay-at-home moms, part-time workers, or fully employed in whatever field, become more effective communicators?
Overall: Just Not Sorry
Absolutely worth a download if you use Gmail, and I look forward to versions being released for other email clients as well. The red underlining can help keep you honest in terms of how direct your communications actually are, and this is something that it’s good for us to think about no matter whom we’re writing to. That being said, I’m curious to see how Just Not Sorry will be positioned going forward – is it a tool for executives to use in writing business emails, or is it more of a tool for women (and men) to use to create more effective communications in all aspects of life? I’m hoping for the latter, and know that I’ll be using this to keep me in check on my varied correspondence going forward.