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Email Management

Just Not Sorry email tool is not helpful to women

It seems that every day there is a new story or research published about how women are perceived in the workplace and what they need to be doing to change these perceptions. Women need to be decisive but not bossy; caring but not over-emotional. Now, a new email tool has been developed that is supposed to help women change these perceptions. The Just Not Sorry Gmail plug-in warns you when you use language that undermines your message and “diminishes” your voice. The tool not only underlines words that can be corrected but also gives you some additional information on how your message could be perceived.

Tami Reiss, CEO of Cyrus Innovation came up with the idea as she wants women to come across as more confident and be more effective in their communication. Reiss wrote in her post that she noticed women were “softening their speech in situations that called for directness and leadership” and why aren’t “women writing with the confidence of their positions?” She then turned to Gillian Morris for help in making this Gmail plug-in.

gmail-plugin  Image credit: Lifehacker.com

The tool has unsurprisingly gained a strong reaction from men and women. Some believe that this tool might be quite useful in correcting our “British shortcomings” and getting to the “bloody point”. Others like Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti are outraged that this is more nonsense judging the way women speak.

I think Reiss has the right intention but I don’t think it’s effective. Women already have a lot of garbage thrown at them about how their style of communication is not correct and that “this” is how they should behave. There is hardly anything about women embracing their natural strengths and using them to their advantage. A tool that helps users become more concise is fine, but playing on the usual stereotypes associated with women is not.

To be fair to Reiss, she hopes that this tool will help women become more mindful in the way they write emails and there is nothing wrong with that. Plus, her post indicates that some research was put into this as she found that writing “thank you” is much more effective than writing “sorry”.

She’s also not wrong about women apologising more than men. In a study published in Psychological Science, it was found that men do say sorry less often than women. But, and this is important, this is only because men have a higher threshold for what they consider to be offensive. Study researcher Karina Schumann found that when a man realises that he has done something wrong, he is just as likely to apologise as when a woman thinks she has done something wrong.  Another more recent survey, also backed up the findings that women apologise more than men, although only 13% of men felt that women apologised too much.

Maybe we need to stop developing tools telling women how they “ought” to behave and just accept that there are fundamental biological differences between the two sexes in the way that they communicate and embrace that. After all, there is no weakness in saying sorry.

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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