Using the word “just”

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I was making a cup of tea in the lunchroom, when a new member of staff walked in. A few months previous, a colleague had complained to me that people generally didn’t say hello to each other when they passed in common areas. Since then, I’d made it a rule to try and say hello to people when seeing them, and try to make a little small talk.

This isn’t exactly something I relish, because generally I’m pretty awkward when it comes to socializing. I often have the tendency to say the wrong thing, or blurt out anything that comes to mind in an attempt to fill the silence as quickly as possible. That or I’ll laugh spontaneously as the nervous tension within me bubbles up. Today was no different.

The member of staff I was speaking to had only been at the organization since the previous week, so we started talking about her new role. She was an admin in one department and as it turned out, I was doing a similar role in my own department.

It was while talking about this that I put my foot in my mouth, “It sounds like we’re doing similar work, I’m just an admin too.”

Usually the conversation would have gone on from there, but this time was different. My colleague stopped me to call me out on my use of the word “just”. Immediately I saw my mistake. By using the word “just” I was diminishing myself and my role. That was bad enough. But by also making the comparison to my colleague and her role, I was disparaging her too.

My initial aim was to explain that we were doing similar work. But instead, by adding that one word “just” the message I sent across was, “We do similar work…and that work isn’t very important.”

When I realized what I’d actually said, I apologized and we ended up having a short discussion about negative self-talk.

Once I got back to my desk I had to immediately Google the use of the word “just”, only to be met with numerous articles about how the word can be diminishing when used.

“Could you just make me a cup of tea?” may sound like a mundane enough request, but at the same time it’s also saying the requested action isn’t really difficult. In that way it could also be sending the signal that it should be easy for the other person to do.

That doesn’t really matter when it comes to cups of tea, but could easily be annoying if asking a colleague at work, “Could you just write me a 200 page report and have it on my desk by tomorrow?” That word, “just” can change your request a lot.

I searched through my work emails and found the word “just” was a regular part of my vocabulary. I most often used it as a way to reduce the importance of my own actions or questions. “I’m just emailing you to ask for your help.” “I just recreated the entire website.”

In this day and age when we’re bombarded with emails daily, failing to respond is easy. I wonder if it’s even easier when you receive an email that is immediately diminished with the word “just”.

Am I reading into this too much? Possibly. But it’s interesting to me that I can be so unaware of my own negativity. That’s problematic.

This is potentially one of those mind blowing moments when you realize that everything you thought you knew about yourself is a lie. But I already knew I was pretty negative, so not really. However, it is kind of interesting to realize I was being negative when that wasn’t even my intention.

My main issue is that I can have these bad habits and not even realize them. That, is the power of negative self-talk. It blends seamlessly into all the other things we say to ourselves. So we can never understand why we suddenly feel bad, or are losing confidence in our abilities.

Even though the answer is obvious now: when you spend weeks telling people you’re “just an admin” or just an anything (“just a mom” was my colleagues pet peeve), eventually you’re going to start feeling worthless.

It’s amazing how one small word can have so much power. But at the same time, I know I have the power to cease using it.

After all, the word “just” is just a word.

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Serious Chats Podcast: Do You Want To Have Children?

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In this episode of Serious Chats, my co-worker, Mike, is back for another round of chat.

This time, we talk about parenthood. Mike has recently had a baby (or his wife has) and he talks about how it has changed him and the overall highs and lows of parenthood.

With an opposing perspective, I talk about why I don’t really want to have kids and why people with babies annoy me on Facebook.

Links to the episode are below, alternatively click through to my blog to listen on there!

Soundcloud | RSS | Stitcher | iTunes or your podcasting app, search for “Serious Chats”

Serious Chats Podcast: Do You Consider Yourself An American?

EPISODE 1 (8)

 

It’s been over a year now since I moved to America and as I posted back then, adjusting to life here has been hard.

It still is hard too. I feel like it will be many years before I finally feel comfortable. Or maybe never will!

When I was thinking up some new ideas for my podcast, my co-worker, Lusine, seemed like she’d be the perfect guest. She moved over to America from Armenia (via Russia) as a teenager, so I thought if anybody could empathise it would be her.

In this episode of Serious Chats, we talk about adjusting to living in America. Whether we’ll ever feel like Americans and how living in a new country changes our identities.

We also think about home and where we consider it to be when we’re thousands of miles from our birthplace.

You can listen on the links below, or alternatively there is a podcast player on my blog. Enjoy!

Soundcloud | RSS | Stitcher | iTunes or your podcasting app, search for “Serious Chats”

Serious Chats Podcast: What’s Your Origin Story?

EPISODE 1 (5)

You might assume that my new podcast only has two episodes as that’s all I’ve posted up onto DasBloggen. But I’m actually on the sixth proper episode now.

Once I’ve recorded the podcast, spent a few hours editing it, created an image, done the uploading AND posted it on social media, the last thing I want to do is also post something on my blog. Continue reading Serious Chats Podcast: What’s Your Origin Story?

Serious Chats Podcast: Are You Having An Existential Crisis?

For my second podcast, I decided to speak with a good friend, George. When I asked what he’d like to talk about, he said existential crises. Which was great because it’s something I’ve written about on my blog in the past. Multiple times.

Funnily enough the podcast caused its own mini crisis. When I was coming to the end of editing it, I realised the sound quality was nowhere near what I was happy with. The thought of uploading it was almost too much to bear. Surely all my friends would laugh at me and think I’m a useless amateur. I should just quit the podcasting business right now.

Then I remembered that I am an amateur and it’s only my second podcast…so I decided to go a little easier on myself. I’m sure the quality will improve. Plus, in 100 years nobody will give a shit anyway! One of the benefits of thinking about your own pointless existence.

Anyway, if you listen, tell me what you think. Have you ever experienced an existential crisis? Do you know how to pronounce the plural of crisis (crises?) because I sure don’t!

Listen to the podcast on my website or through the links below:

Soundcloud | iTunes | RSS

Serious Chats Podcast: Would You Announce Your Death On LinkedIn?

I’ve started a podcast. If you like my blog (the one you’re reading right now), my podcast might have some appeal too.

I like to write about serious things, so thought why not make a podcast about serious things as well?

In my first episode, I talk about death and social media. Does it get any more serious than that? You can listen on the embedded player above.

Alternatively you can find it in your podcast app by searching for, “Serious Chats”. Or click one of the links below:

Soundcloud | iTunes | RSS
 

Alexa, Write Me A Humourous Blog Post

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Remember 5 years ago when Apple released Siri and everybody thought it was amazing?

For 2 minutes.

Which was the time it took to realise that Siri:

a/ Didn’t understand what the hell you were saying half the time.
b/ Was embarrassing to use in public. “Siri, is my mole cancerous?” Continue reading Alexa, Write Me A Humourous Blog Post

Random thoughts on life and travel.