We live in a digital world, and it’s likely that a large part of your working day is spent in the depths of your email inbox. Ever feel like you’re not coming across as intelligent and powerful as you really are? It might be that your email lingo is letting you down.
Here are 10 words that you’ll want to cut from your emails in order to sound authoratative and on top of your career.
“Just checking whether…” “I just wanted to ask…” “It’s just that I needed this yesterday…”
“Just” is a word we use to soften what we want to say when we’re worried that we’ll upset someone or we’ll come across as demanding and bitchy. You don’t need softening, sometimes you’ve got to tell it like it is.
“Sorry I was wondering if you could…” “Sorry to bother you…” “Sorry for the delay, really sorry to have kept you waiting…”
Multiple studies have shown that women apologise more than men. There’s even a Google Chrome extension you can download that will make your emails sound less apologetic. Ask yourself when you next type “sorry” if you can swap that “sorry” out for a “thank you” – rather than “sorry to keep you waiting on this” try “thank you for your patience on this”.
“I feel like the numbers this quarter demonstrate…” “I feel that this isn’t the best option…” “I feel as though this might be incorrect…”
Saying “feel” instead of “know” is another attempt to not rock the boat. If it’s just a feeling you have, you’re open to being proven wrong. This is often true of “I think”. There’s no need to weaken your point with “I feel” or “I think” if in reality, you know something to be true.
“Thanks for waiting!” “Please send this back to me when you have the time!” “I hope you’re well!”
Sometimes we use exclamation marks to try to recreate verbal intonations. “What if they think I’m angry, I’ll throw in an exclamation mark!” Too many exclamation marks can read like “Please! Like! Me!” or “I’m! Not! Sure! What! I’m! Doing!” Cut them out.
“Please get this back to me ASAP…” “I will send the final draft ASAP…” “I need to send this off ASAP…”
ASAP is non-specific and can land you in hot water when one person’s “ASAP” is different to yours. This is also true of words like “important” and “urgent”. If there is a specific deadline you need to meet, write that.
“Hey guys, let’s go over these numbers…” “Sorry about this guys, but…” “Morning guys…”
“Guys” may have slipped into everyday speech when we’re talking to groups of people of all genders, but would you say “dudes” or “bros” in the boardroom? Keep your workplace professional and use professional language, especially in emails. Emails are easy receipts for your employer to look at to see how you’re doing and you’ll want to look serious when they do their review.
“Can you please try to send this to me by…” “I will try to attend the meeting…” “Try to keep me in the loop on this…”
Won’t make that meeting? Don’t say you’ll try to be there, just say you won’t be there. Need someone to send you something? Tell them that they have to, not that they ought to “try” to. Stay strong and lay out clear boundaries.
“This might be a terrible idea, but…” “I would like to come to the meeting, but…” “This is how I think we should do this, but…”
If you want to say something, say it! If you want to say “I would like to come to the meeting, but I have another appointment which I should attend to” you will sound much more in control if you split the clauses up: “I would like to come to the meeting. However, I have another appointment which takes precedence.”
“This is kind of serious, but…” “I’m kind of unsure about this decision…” “This is kind of early for this conversation, however…”
“Kind of” is another phrase we use to soften our impact. We’re “kind of” impressed by how we’ve improved the company numbers this quarter, we’re “kind of” concerned about the fact that the report you needed this morning hasn’t been sent to you… Don’t dim your light!
“Basically, I wanted to let you know that…” “I’m basically struggling to use this software…” “Basically, there’s a significant issue with…”
We’ve struggled to think of an example where the word “basically” adds anything to a sentence. It may come across as informal and conversational when you’re speaking IRL with your colleagues, but in an email it’s just filler. Bye bye “basically”!
Author: Verity Babbs