‘Just’

“Hi honey, it’s just me.”

Meaning “it’s only me.” This is the context within which we so often use the word ‘just,’ especially when talking to our loved ones.

The more familiar you are with one another and the closer you are emotionally to the person to whom you’re talking, the more likely you’ll add the word ‘just’ as a prelude to explain who’s on the end of the phone. Familiarity and a close emotional tie makes one feel as if they are taking up precious moments of their loved one’s life. ‘I won’t call today. I know he’s busy.’

This can lead, in extreme cases, to a sense of a lack of self-esteem or self-worth. But the fact is that your loved ones generally love nothing better than hearing your voice on the other end of the phone.

“Who was that on the phone, sweetie?”

“Just Jane.”

Let’s try that again;

“Who was that on the phone, sweetie?”

“It was Jane. So glad she called. There’s only one thing better than hearing her voice and that’s seeing her in person.”

Familiarity can breed contempt but in loving families, those calls between loved ones are not just another call, they are special moments to be cherished.

Familiarity is never present in phone calls from strangers or business associates. A business associate might say;

“It’s John here Owen, you know, from Advantage Australia. Can you talk?”

They’ll ‘announce’ themselves to the person on the other end of the phone, as a means of introduction. Their unfamiliarity with their phone contact gives their voice and their call a sense of greater importance. There is little potential these calls will be taken for granted. They’re not ‘just’ anything. Rather, they provide an opportunity for a new business relationship, telemarketers aside.

‘Jane just wants to say hi,’ you think to yourself, ‘I’ll call her back.’ Whereas when John calls, you think; ‘I wonder what he wants?’

At work we now understand the way ‘just,’ when used, can be interpreted by the customer. ‘It’s not important. I don’t have to take this call seriously. They’ll be gone shortly and I can get back to what I was doing’ the customer thinks.

So “it’s just the finance company calling” has become “it’s Rebecca calling from XYZ Finance.”

The customer now understands they should sit up and listen to what’s about to be said. This is a call that’s been made for a reason, not ‘just’ to pass the time of day.

There are many ways in which the word ‘just’ can be used (as you ‘just’ saw in the text of this piece). It can mean justice, as in ‘a just and democratic society.’ Or it can mean ‘precisely,’ ‘exactly,’ as in ‘that’s just what I meant’ or ‘that’s just what I need.’ Alternatively, it can be used in the context of the recent past, as in ‘I just got back from the park,’ or ‘I just picked up the mail.’

But it is rarely defined as meaning ‘only,’ or ‘simply,’ as in ‘it’s just me,’ or ‘I just want to be left alone.’

I Googled ‘Just’ ‘just now’ to see what would come up. Would the context in which it’s used be that of justice, the recent past, precision, or would it be used in the context of solitude or simplicity?

Check the entries below;

Justin Bieber begs Australian fans to ‘please just respect me’ – meaning ‘simply.’

(Sydney Morning Herald)

Campbell Newman’s book is just his take: Springborg – meaning ‘precisely.’

(Brisbane Times)

How To Survive A Long Flight With Just Your Smartphone – meaning ‘only.’

(Gizmodo Australia)

Labor ‘just wants to tax’: Morrison – meaning ‘simply,’ or ‘only.’

(Sky News Australia)

Uber battle ‘just the start of a wider war’: taxi council – meaning ‘only.’

(The Australian)

Hillary Clinton just had her toughest grilling yet – meaning ‘recent past.’

(Business Insider Australia)

‘I just exist as nothing’: Life after a loved one becomes a missing  – meaning ‘simply’ or ‘only.’

(NEWS.com.au)

So you see, ‘just’ can mean many different things, depending on the context in which it’s used. But more often that not, it’s a word that’s used to mean ‘only’ or ‘simply.’

Like many words in the English language it causes us to sub-consciously interpret the word’s meaning for ourselves, effecting the way we treat the importance of the sentence within which it’s used. It’s remarkable what the brain can do without our knowledge.

Just think about it.

One thought on “‘Just’

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