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Should “Just Not Sorry” be sorry?

The Just Not Sorry Gmail Plugin targets emails that lack confident language with some success—and some controversy.

Being aware of our subconscious tendencies is a difficult task. Just Not Sorry is aiming to tackle it.

The Gmail plugin flags qualifying words and phrases in your emails, encouraging you to stop saying “I think” when you know, or “sorry” when there’s nothing to apologize for.

It’s officially marketed to both men and women, but the female-founded software development firm that created it openly states the inspiration came from conversations with women entrepreneurs.

Just Not Sorry has reached close to 25,000 users since its launch at the end of last year, and earned positive reviews. It has also been called out for being just another tool to criticize women.

Yes, women are judged on their communication styles often (remember the media frenzy around vocal fry?), but rather than argue whether the plugin is wagging a finger at all women, or point out that it (obviously) won’t solve deeper gender diversity issues, it’s more productive to focus on what it can do.

The app can help some women (and men) to be aware of any unconscious use of language that might not convey confidence, and enable them to decide if it needs to be revised. Should you get rid of every “sorry” in every email? No. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful to be conscious of the language you are using, so you can tailor it appropriately to the audience and message.