Emails are a lot different from pen and paper letters, especially when you’re sending them to a business associate, a client, a customer, or a colleague. You wouldn’t speak to your boss in the same tone you’d speak to your mother, and digital language is a lot different from conversational language. There are some unspoken etiquette rules that dictate what is and isn’t acceptable for an email. Make sure you’re not breaking these rules before you hit send.
1. “Sincerely yours”
Sincerely yours, sincerely, or any other archaic ending has no place in an email. Unless the recipient is your long lost lover, they’re probably going to find it just a tad bit creepy if your signoff sounds so personal and devoted. Use a short sentence that sums up what you intend for the recipient to do, such as “eager to know what you think” or “I look forward to hearing back from you.”
2. “I hope you’re well”
This is a hollow formality, and the person reading your email will immediately recognize it as one. You aren’t that invested in them. They’re not the center of your hopes. You don’t go to bed at night worrying about their wellbeing. This statement is nothing but filler. Get to the point of your email a little quicker by eliminating the one-sided small talk or using something less intense like ‘Hope you are having a great week’.
3. “I wanted to reach out…”
The reader knows you wanted to reach out. They got the email you sent them, and you wouldn’t have sent it if you weren’t trying to make some sort of connection. The statement itself is very vague. If your email contains some kind of call to action, just let the reader know what it is.
4. Any statement with “Forwarding” or “Forwarded”
Always use “sent” or “sending” instead of “forwarding” or “forwarded.” Using any variation of “forward” implies that you’re merely moving information around. This can give the impression that what you’re providing is of lesser importance. Variations of “sent” are a little more direct, and they make the reader feel more involved rather than leaving them feeling like they got a bunch of the same junk that everyone else got.
5. “I apologize” or “I’m sorry” when used incorrectly
Some people apologize for things that they don’t need to be sorry for. If you’ve done something you need to express regret for, make sure you’re extending that thought further than “I apologize for the inconvenience.” Outline what went wrong and what you intend to do to resolve the issue. An apology won’t mean much if you can’t back it up with action. Most apologies should be given in person or over the phone, so if you can skip this one entirely, do it.
6. “Very important”
Most emails are often labeled as “very important.” It’s become so common that the phrase has lost meaning. Big companies even label their sales as very important. If something is important, express why it’s important, rather than leaving things open to interpretation.
7. “Please note…”
If you need someone to pay attention to something important, don’t be so meek about it. Sometimes, “please note” when attached to a statement that can be interpreted as obvious can even come across as condescending. “Be advised” or “for your reference” make better substitutes for “please note.”
8. “Don’t hesitate to contact me”
This phrase is overused. There is polite and there is over polite and this phrase falls under the latter; being overly polite makes you sound phony. Most people know they’ll have to ask you for clarifications or further information in the event that you need it. Provide them with contact information and tell them how you want them to use it.
This word only serves to add a level of uncertainty to what you’re saying. Be more concrete in your communications and remove it from your emails – if you’re not sure about something, be flexible or give yourself a deadline. Nothing sounds worse than “I’ll probably have it done today by 3 pm”.
10. “Try to” or “Trying”
Both these words indicate that you’re not really sure about what you’re doing. Many people will assume that using this phrase, you’re actually communicating your inability to do the task. Remove “try” and ask yourself why you put it there in the first place – if you lack skills or information, reach out to people who can help you.
People often use this phrase, failing to realize that it’s completely redundant. Next time you’re about to write “I think”, just drop it – share your views on the subject and the recipient of your message will easily attribute these thoughts to you. Also, the moment you say “I think”, you will seem less confident about what you have to say.
This is a popular term that at some point simply lost its meaning and authenticity. Use it and you’ll sound as if you were sharing some secret information with someone which actually isn’t that big of a secret.
This word makes your emails sound conversational. Sure, “really” works in conversations, but in textual communication it’s simply unnecessary. Remove it and you’re bound to maintain the sense of your sentence. Also, constantly using words like “really” to make your point (instead of finding a better word) shows that you are an amateur writer, if not a lazy one.
If you’d like to clarify the meaning of something, “literally” is the right term to use. If that’s not your intention, it will only sound like an exaggeration or metaphor. This is a word which is apt for verbal conversations than for emails.
This word is just way too generic and meaningless. It doesn’t really help you to specify what you’re talking about. Find a more direct alternative to make your point clear.
This word has become so generic and overused that it no longer sounds like a compliment nor does it sound authentic. From academy award winning speeches to corporate slogans, you find this word everywhere. In short, it communicates nothing to the other person and is just another common dull word. Find a more specific word to describe what you’re feeling.
The meaning of quite is complicated. It can mean “a bit”, “completely” or “almost”. Needless to say, it’s often simply unnecessary. Whenever you’re tempted to use this word, ask yourself whether you’re actually adding meaning to the sentence.
“FYI” is just rude and can easily become a tool in passive aggressive communication when forwarding an email from someone else – “FYI, you should know about this”. It can only work if you make your context clear – adding a simple “FYI” at the top of a forwarded message, you’ll motivate the recipient to scroll down and find out what you mean. Make your intention clear so that the other person doesn’t start to question the hidden meaning of “FYI”.
Just write “please”, everyone will get the message. “Kind” is too intense a word to use in professional email conversations.
If you’re using this word as a sentence filler, it quickly loses its meaning. Many people use it in phrases like “I just wanted to reach out” and end up sounding apologetic for contacting the recipient. By removing “just”, you’ll add more gravity to your words and sound more excited about this communication. Not only does eliminating overused phrases make your emails translate as more professional and direct, it may also help your messages avoid being intercepted by spam filters. There’s nothing wrong with eliminating cliché jargon in favor of using your own unique voice when sending an email.
Not only does eliminating overused phrases make your emails translate as more professional and direct, it may also help your messages avoid being intercepted by spam filters. There’s nothing wrong with eliminating cliché jargon in favor of using your own unique voice when sending an email.
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