By: Liz Murphy

on December 5th, 2017

Print this Page/Save it as a PDF

Are 'Undermining Words' a Crime? (Creator's Block, Ep. 51) Blog Feature Subscribe

By: Liz Murphy

 on December 5th, 2017

Print this Page/Save it as a PDF

"Are 'Undermining Words' a Crime?" (Creator's Block, Ep. 51)

Creator's Block | Leadership | Podcasts & Shows

A couple of years ago, while working at Quintain, a plugin for Gmail called Just Not Sorry started making the rounds.

The stated goal of the app was to help women specifically use fewer "undermining words" in their emails -- like "I think," "just," and "sorry."  So, whenever you type an email, the undermining words would be underlined, as if you misspelled something.

At the time, this seemed very helpful to me, since I tend to apologize, even when I haven’t done anything wrong. Or, sometimes I act as if what I’m asking for is a bother, when all I'm trying to do is get my work done, just like everyone else.

Flash forward to today, and while I still apply some of the principles I learned through the usage of Just Not Sorry, I haven't reinstalled the plugin in my IMPACT email. 

However, I noticed last week that I was getting stuck trying to reword emails to be less apologetic. There was one email in particular, where I felt incredibly awkward. Not because I was being overly-apologetic, but rather everything I tried to say sounded completely unnatural when I tried to avoid undermining myself verbally.

I was frustrated and, ultimately, spent close to 30 minutes tripping over myself not trying to say words that were now considered "bad."

Which got me thinking about this whole debate all over again.

Are these "undermining words" really a bad thing?

Should we be trying to fix them? Is there some truth to women in the workplace feeling like they need to apologize more, or is this a case of women’s behavior coming under undue scrutiny?


Listen to the Episode

MarketHer iTunes Subscribe

What We Talked About

  • What are "undermining words," and why are women the target of this conversation?
  • When does avoiding those types of words go too far?
  • Is the whole debate even productive, or is it another case of society being hyper-critical of female behavior in the workplace?
  • Are these words and phrases simply a sign of compassion or contextual awareness?
  • What does this discussion say about male and female expectations in leadership and power dynamics?

Resources We Discussed

We Want to Hear from You!

First, subscribe to Creator's Block on Apple Podcasts. Second, have a question or an idea for a future episode of the podcast? Let us know! 

Or, you can leave us a comment below! Until next week...

Discover the 7 marketing apps that'll change your marketing strategy and make all the difference in this free guide.

Get it Now
7 Apps Every Marketing Strategy Needs

About Liz Murphy

As IMPACT's content strategist, Liz does more than wrangle commas. With more than 10 years of editorial and inbound marketing experience, she's obsessed with innovating new ways of creating amazing content that's absurdly useful and effective. (She also works with in-house contributors and clients as an editor, strategist, interviewer, coach, and sometimes therapist.) No matter which hat she's wearing, her goal is simple -- to empower organizations and thought leaders to differentiate themselves and drive measurable results through game-changing content. Throughout her career, Liz has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries -- from cyber security and health care, to government sales and insurance. Liz lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and two dogs. She loves public radio and is also a freelance beer writer and an enthusiastic camper. Finally, she has very aggressive feelings about pineapple on pizza. (It's best not to engage her on that topic.)

  • Connect with Liz Murphy