Here’s a simple tip that will transform your emails. Write yourself this note and stick it on your screen:

I will never, ever use the **** word.

You know the word. We use it all the time:

Just checking if you’ve had the chance to…

Just following up on…

If you have just a moment…

Just wondering…

‘Just’. Why do we use it? Because we see it as informal. Polite. Non-confrontational. And it is, of course. But it’s also weak. Apologetic. It puts you on the back-foot and implies that what you’re asking for isn’t that important to you.

And so it can be easily ignored.

Expunge the filthy word from your vocabulary. Put a swear box on your desk and vow to drop in a tenner every time you even think about writing ‘just’. Then save yourself the money by rephrasing your emails. When you need a response, don’t be apologetic – say it straight. You can be polite without being passive. And you’ll get much better results.

Just do it.