Author: Robert Hackman

by Robert Hackman Robert Hackman No Comments

Stop Degrading Your Executive Presence, Self-confidence, and Well-Being

Picture by James Orr on Unsplash


So just clean out your ears and just check word

From the Song ‘Check the Rhyme’

By A Tribe Called Quest

A simple, single word just appeared on my radar as it were a spy, hiding its deceit in plain sight. I noticed others using it before realizing how much I uttered it too. Its usage seemed automatic and addictive while simultaneously insidious, simplistic, and pervasive.

The word is ‘just.’  Yeah, go ahead, re-read that first sentence and replace it with ‘recently.’  Doesn’t it sound better?  I think so too!

Can a tiny term have such an overt, outsized impact?  I contend it can and does – relentless repetition makes it worse. See if you recognize yourself using it too. Right – just so, I thought so. Welcome to the club. ‘Just’ sucks out the power from your words. However, it does not have to be this way.

I believe there are two significant problems with using this word:

  1. ‘Just’ is a minimizer that devalues everything that comes after it.


  1. Using it simultaneously lessens executive presence, chips away at self-confidence, and depresses well-being.

“Slipping in ‘just’ before you put forth your ‘brilliant ideas’ diminishes them and decreases their likelihood of being considered or adopted by others.”

It has become a ubiquitous filler, such an um.

Can you imagine an inspirational speaker, a high-performing salesperson, or a medical expert beginning their proclamations with ‘I just?’ Would you be more or less likely to follow them, buy from them, or trust them? You know the answer, so follow their lead.

Luckily, the opposite is also true. Removing the word elevates your contributions and makes them more convincing, thus raising your executive presence. The skill of activating other’s confidence in you, executive presence correlates closely with competence, courage, and the capacity to motivate others. It has become an essential leadership attribute. ‘Just’ does not cut it.

We need to remember whatever meaning we convey to other people we confer to ourselves.

“Adding the word ‘just’ communicates we and our messages lack worth, suggestions our subconscious absorb as truth, sabotaging our self-confidence and well-being.”

We unknowingly wield ‘just’ as a weapon against ourselves.

Our propensity to diminish ourselves in these ways has become so ingrained in our conversation and self-talk it has essentially become invisible to us, yet no less destructive.

Vanquishing the habit of ‘just’ is simple, yet not easy. We must become hyper-aware of its use, stop it, and restart without the word. In the infamous declaration by Allen Iverson, “We’re talking about practice!” Rinse and repeat to embed the new habit.

We can better attune to how frequently we feel afraid. I assert we fear subjecting our ideas to negative judgment, dismissal, or ridicule. When the stakes are higher, with specific people or groups, and the possible social or political costs are more acute, we become even more apt to slide in ‘just’ for added protection. That is what initiated our walk down this path in the first place.

Instead, choose courageous vulnerability and resist putting up the ‘trust’ shield to hedge against the pain of rejection. By ditching ‘just,’ you assert yourself more confidently while becoming more self-assured and self-respecting in the process.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Your automatic use of the word ‘just’ hurts us in significant ways, whether we are aware of it or not.


  1. Inserting the minimizing term ‘just’ before your ideas decreases your executive presence and diminishes how other people regard you and your contributions.


  1. When you confer meaning to others, you send the same messages to yourself, which your subconscious absorbs as truth. To improve, you must edit your words accordingly.


  1. Releasing your grip on the word ‘just’ is simple but not easy. You can and will improve with ‘practice.’


If you want help fostering your executive presence, influence, self-confidence, and well-being in your team members or your organization, please reach out to me. I welcome the connection.