In the News: Not Sorry

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A new app that was designed to improve women’s communication skills has been the topic of debate this month.

The Just Not Sorry app is a Google Chrome email extension designed to help women sound more authoritative and confident by highlighting those words that sabotage their message. Created by Tami Reiss, who created the app to help her and her friends, the app “underlines words for correction with additional information about how using the phrase is perceived”.  According to Google chrome, the app has been downloaded approximately 40,000 times and the average review is a 4 out of 5 stars rating; however, the app has not been without opposition.

The Critics

Critics argue that the app blames women for talking like themselves and suggests that women must sound like men to be viewed as confident. Another argument was that the app should not be relocated to a specific gender as men and women regularly use the word sorry in their dialogue; notably in other countries, such as Great Britain. Others argue that using words like sorry is proper etiquette to respect the recipient and should not be viewed as a sign of weakness.

My Take

I found the app useful in gaining awareness of how frequently I used “just” in my emails (Repetitive words can undermine the effectiveness of a message) and I appreciated that the app explained how the word may be perceived. There were also a couple of times that I reconsidered my sentence structure for better clarity. I would have liked to see alternatives offered in place of the words the app highlighted.

The critics offer good points in that culture can affect how a word may be perceived. As new technologies have open the way for globalization, one has to be cognizant of word usage when working with diverse cultures. So one has to consider the recipient when conveying a message. Perhaps the Ms. Reiss may consider settings to reflect cultural differences in future updates of the app.

Whether the app insults or assists is an individual decision. You decide: Here’s the link.

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Nancy Kirk-Gettridge is founder of Phenomenal Image, an executive development firm focused on helping her clients gain confidence and take control of their careers. Confronting workplace challenges and her own limiting beliefs, Nancy is committed to helping her clients see themselves as qualified leaders and risk-takers. Nancy frequently writes about resolving gender bias in the workplace. Key topics include career management, leadership training/development, succession planning and overcoming workplace issues.

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