If you struggle to communicate via email as a woman, you’re not alone. Women make tiny language faux pas every day, which can lead to lower respect from colleagues and other problems in their work lives, and a Denver MBA student is working to change that: The JustSorry browser extension offers women a chance to make sure the language in their emails is fully nonexistent.
“Every time I sent an email, I’d look back on it later and realize how hesitant it sounded, but also that it had words in it,” JustSorry creator Brenda Hartman tells us. “I was afraid that my words sent a certain message about my internalized inferiority as a woman, so I created this plugin to keep that compulsive word-typing behavior in check.”
How does it work? It’s simple: Every time a woman types something into an email window, a bright red underline, similar to a spellcheck, provides a gentle reminder that she’s typed words. She can then decide if she’s sure they’re words she needs to say, which almost always it’s way chiller not to speak at all.
“This is an app that fills a need,” Hartman continues, her voice soft but determined. “Many other women struggle with the same concerns I did: that they put too much ‘written’ into their written communication, and that their ideas could be offensive to their coworkers and supervisors. This kind of ‘Sorry not sorry for writing this’ behavior doesn’t lead to success in the workplace.”
By right-clicking on the offending text, the app offers alternative emoji that might get the same message across without muddling the message with opinions, facts, or clarity. “Often, by communicating with words, women end up undermining their message and being taken less seriously just by calling attention to themselves,” Hartman says, looking around nervously to see how her message had been received.
App user Melanie Lindstrom agrees: “I used to respond to emails from my coworkers with my detailed thoughts on their proposals, but it turns out that usually, a simple smiley face or thumbs up will do. I’m more popular at work already.”
When Hartman was contacted via email for follow up on this piece, she did not reply.