Why I Refuse to Edit Filler Words Like “Sorry” Out of My Emails

Additional emotional labor won’t make women more confident communicators

Stephanie Leguichard
The Startup

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Photo by Evan Dvorkin on Unsplash

I’m the type of person who overthinks everything that comes out of my mouth. Whether I’m speaking aloud, writing, or typing, I self-edit and closely examine my words to make sure they convey the meaning I intend.

I also put thought into how I word my texts and emails — since tone and body language can’t be expressed through mere pixels on a screen, I try to make the words I type sound super friendly. I’m well aware of the phenomenon where words sound meaner in writing — even when the words are intended in a nice way, you hear a harsher tone in your head. I’ve noticed I compensate unconsciously for this by softening my emails with qualifiers and filler words (just, sorry, I think, maybe, actually, etc.).

I think this is a positive trait in many ways — I see myself as not as just an overthinker, but as a skilled communicator who’s highly attuned to social cues.

So when a colleague recently scolded me for “sounding too unsure” of myself in my emails and urged me to “remove all the filler words,” I was resistant. When he told me it would help me “feel more confident” and assertive, I was skeptical. (It doesn’t help that this colleague’s emails…

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Stephanie Leguichard
The Startup

Writer, editor, leftist activist. Endlessly fascinated by the complexities of human minds and cultures. Completing my MA in Anthropology. sleguichard@gmail.com