“I just do not believe it!”, as Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave might have said. An app called ‘Just Not Sorry’
purports to empower women, removing keywords and phrases from emails that might undermine the point they’re trying to make. Surely what Google Chrome should have been promoting is just plain good writing?
Admittedly, I have long had a problem with the word ‘sorry’. It’s constantly been dinned into me that in the corporate world it’s a sign of weakness and this leaches into my personal life. Also, I don’t know whether it was something to do with my French education, but I have always translated the exclamation ‘pardonnez moi’ as “I beg my pardon”. My parents tried in vain to make me say “I beg your pardon” but I was adamant. To my mind, I was begging for my pardon from another person. But I digress…
The app has apparently been inspired by US life coach Tara Mohr, who advises women that they shouldn’t apologise for what they think so as to appear more likeable. It works like a spellcheck, underlining expressions which offend in red, and explaining why they should be avoided – usually because they undermine the author’s message, according to its creators, Cyrus Innovation.
But what I can’t understand is why it should be needed in the first place? The whole idea of writing is to convey thoughts in as lucid a manner as possible, so that they should be simple and easy to read. Prevarication should be forbidden, and authors should have the courage of their convictions – otherwise why write?
Microsoft’s Track Changes is bad enough: it’s often driven me close to a nervous breakdown as I try to get a clean copy without underlines or overwriting obscuring what I want to convey. The idea that one should download an app which will dog your written footsteps, and voice an opinion as to whether the language you are using undermines the essence of what you want to say makes me incandescent.
Women (and men for that matter) should just tell it how it is. No more ‘well, I personally’ (that’s tautological), or ‘IMHO’ (humble, who are you kidding?). Writing, whether in a professional or a personal capacity, needs to be done politely and succinctly. As a for instance, if someone goes out of their way to help you, then thank them. This is not a sign of weakness, merely treating somebody as you would wish to be treated.
If we are asking another person if they would mind taking on part of our workload, why shouldn’t we say sorry instead of just dumping it on them? Maybe it’s our role to educate men to do the same, rather than seething when they offload without explanation on us.
So if there’s anyone out there who wonders what I mean when I use certain words, here’s a quick run down:
‘Just…’ I’m not asking for anything much, just listen to me and jump to it. It won’t take you long.
‘Apologies…’ Actually, I’m not sorry for anything I’ve said, but I do feel obliged to say this to cover my backside.
‘Might you be able to…?‘ Pretty please? I promise not to pester after this.
‘Shall we retrace our steps…?’ You are now talking absolute codswallop, and we need to get this conversation back on track.
But there again, maybe I just need to write my own dictionary.