Get it done, darn it!


Driving to work recently the radio host mentioned a study about the differences between how men and women communicate by email. I don’t recall the origin  of the survey so I can’t speak to its accuracy but anecdotally the study’s comments felt valid.

The study suggests that when writing emails at work, women tend to use words such as “just”, “sorry”, “I think”, “probably” and “likely”. All of these superfluous words tend to undermine the substance of the email and thus the authority of the writer.

Think about:

I am just checking in to see how the analysis is going versus I am checking  in to see how the analysis is going

Sorry, but I wanted to confirm you’re running with the Smith file versus I wanted to confirm you’re running with the Smith file

I think a parade float would cost too much versus A parade float would cost too much

Probably the best approach is to do a customer survey versus The best approach is to do a customer survey

This is likely a waste of time for the team versus This is a waste of time for the team.

As a woman, I think we are raised to care more about others’ opinions and at work this can come across as unnecessary and actually unintended deference to others’ opinions. Re-reading the last sentence I see I added “I think” when everything in this post is clearly what I think so adding in that phrase sounds hesitant on my part.

Since I listened to that radio show, I’ve found myself on several occasions thinking about whether I need to soften up emails with these kinder, gentler words and phrases. Usually I have decided that they are not necessary.

Whenever I see one of Andrew’s emails at work, I smile at the terseness of them, often even skipping punctuation to get to the point:

We need to prioritize the projects so all can be completed by year end thx Andrew

I cannot imagine how long it would take me to write some flowery note to my team saying the same darn thing!

Anyway it’s entirely possible that the habit of being overly self deprecating in communications is not strictly gender based: I’ve known several women at the bank who wrote notes as crisp as Andrew’s, and men who wax eloquently and at length.

I think it’s probably worth thinking about or if you disagree then  likely you’re right too. LOL.




About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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