When I use “just” in a sentence that starts with “Can I just say this one thing?”, what I am hoping to do is to downplay and to a big extent, hide, what is coming next. You hear the words “just… and one thing”, and you could fairly expect that what will follow will be quick and to the point.
It turns out those words are a disguise – my go-to-question when I want to slip in some un-asked-for-advice. When your “yes” comes, my advice monster is unleashed.
Michael Bungay Stanier, the author of The Coaching Habit, says to change a habit we must first recognize and acknowledge what we currently do and then use that as a cue to change. When I hear myself about to use the words “Can I just say this one thing?”, I’m going to say, “Tell me more…”, and practice listening instead.
When I add the word “just” as in, “I’m just following up” or “ I’m just trying to clarify.” I am putting myself in a position of being sheep-like and uncertain of my right to ask. I come to you humbly and with best intentions not to offend but why? After all, the same questions without the addition of the word “just” are still polite and respectful. If you have a task that you said you would do, why do I feel I need to tiptoe in and quietly ask the question? And if I want to understand what you are saying, why do I feel I need to ask with such timidity?
I am working on dropping the word “just” – on those occasions when I am either trying to get away with something, like in the case of un-asked-for-advice-giving, or where I am treading nervously, unnecessarily.
What about you? Where could you drop “just”?
My challenge is to seek to clarify and to follow up with confidence. And to put away (fluoro note-to-self) the “can I just say this one thing?”, for good.
P.S. – I am also dropping “just” from my prayers. Nothing I ask for in prayer is ever anything I could do on my own. The word “just” sounds like I am saying “this small thing”. When in fact each prayer is a request for something monumental and extraordinary.